The American Biblical Repository, April, 1838, pages 521-522:



United  States.

Professor  Morse's  Electro-Magnetic  Telegraph.

    As this invention is attracting some interest in this country, and as other countries are bestowing much attention upon Electric Telegraphs constructed on somewhat similar principles, we have thought it proper, in noticing this invention, to give a few facts and dates to determine who, among all the rival claimants, is entitled to the honor of a discovery which, to use the words of a distinguished statesman, "is to make a new era in the progress of human improvements."
    The suggestion of the possibility of conveying intelligence by means of electricity must have occurred many years since, to scientific and ingenious men, both in this and in foreign countries, but no practical method has been devised, until very recently, of putting this possibility to the trial of experiment. We might suppose that Franklin himself would naturally have suggested the idea, but it does not appear that he or any of the philosophers of his day thought of it. It is stated on good authority that, as early as the year 1800, the idea was suggested by an individual in this country; and Dr. Cox of Philadelphia, in 1816, in a published document, not only avowed his belief in the possibility of conveying intelligence by electricity, but hinted at some means of doing it, and predicted that new discoveries in science would probably accomplish it; yet no invention was made. In Europe, Prof. Oersted of Copenhagen, only a few years since, (we have not before us the precise date), suggested the possibility of an electric Telegraph. Ampére of Paris, and Prof. Barlow of London, about the year 1830, both proclaimed its possibility, but devised no practicable mode. In 1832, Prof. Morse of the University of the city of New York, while returning from France, unconscious, as we are told, that even the thought of sending intelligence by electricity had ever occurred to another, conceived the idea, and devised a mode of carrying it into effect. He invented a system of signs or characters by which to read, and a mode of permanently recording by electricity. On his arrival he immediately proceeded to have parts of the apparatus made, as it is at present in operation; and but for hindrances, not connected with the invention, would have produced the apparatus complete in 1832. The distinguished Prof. Gauss of Göttingen, about two years since, (1836), invented a mode of communicating intelligence by means of an electric wire, deflecting a magnetic needle, which mode, we learn, he has now in use at Göttingen for about three miles. Prof. Wheatstone of the London University also invented a mode in 1835 or -6, using five wires or circuits, and has constructed a system of signs by the defection of magnetic needles.
    The general plan of Prof. Morse's Telegraph was first published in April 1837. The first intelligence of Prof. Wheatstone's operations reached this country in May 1837, one month after Prof. Morse's had been before the American public. Prof. Morse's plan embraced, from the beginning in 1833, but one wire or circuit. It is now successfully accomplished by him, and by it he causes a pen permanently to write the characters of his intelligence. He showed the efficiency of his machinery in July and August 1837, and in September following made trial of it for a distance of half a mile. Since that time his new machinery with ten miles of wire has been constructed and is perfectly satisfactory in its operation. Eminent scientific men in New-York, Philadelphia, and Washington have witnessed its performance, approve the plan, and perceive no insurmountable obstacles to its universal application. Whatever therefore may have been previously hinted in regard to the practicability of an Electric Telegraph, it appears that Prof. Morse is the first who has devised an original Telegraph accomplishing its object perfectly. His plan was devised prior to his knowledge of the European inventions of the same name, and accomplishes its object in a totally different mode, more simple, less expensive, and more complete and permanent. It has been introduced to the consideration of Congress, and we learn, with satisfaction, that, in all probability, the means for an extensive trial of this Telegraph will be furnished. Should its success equal the expectations of most who have examined it, the results of this discovery upon society will be greater than the imagination of the most sanguine can now distinctly conceive.