Displaying the American genius: the electromagnetic telegraph in the wider world
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 July 2001
Shortly after he made a working model of his electromagnetic telegraph in 1837, Samuel F. B. Morse and his associates began an intense initiative to publicize and market it to the world. At first, using the social skills he had learned during his years as a portrait painter, Morse strove to gain the support of the upper classes in Europe. He and his agents saw the physical seats of institutions such as palaces and academy lecture halls as the most desirable settings for public demonstrations of the apparatus. To win public support back at home, they made a point of politicizing the invention by presenting it as an example of American mechanical ingenuity. Their efforts to market the invention were not confined to the United States, Britain and France, but included the rest of Europe and the Near and Far East as well. The telegraph promoters, presuming an oriental fascination with magic, endeavoured to exploit potential markets in the East, particularly the Ottoman Empire and Japan, by making the most of its wondrous effects. The Sultan's palace provided a most exotic setting for display of the electromagnetic telegraph.
- Research Article
- © 2001 British Society for the History of Science