First Transatlantic Cable (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: A communications link between North America and Great Britain opens an era of political and economic cooperation.
Summary of Event
Among the most important developments of the nineteenth century were the invention of the magnetic telegraph, a simple electrical device that revolutionized the field of communications, and the launching of the SS Great Eastern, which made possible the laying of the transatlantic cable. Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph in 1837; by the mid-1840’s, his telegraph had already made possible almost instantaneous communication over long distances. In 1845, Morse secured a congressional appropriation of thirty thousand dollars to set up, between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, the nation’s first telegraph line.
The first successful underwater cable of substantial length was completed in 1850, connecting Dover and Calais by way of the English Channel. That accomplishment inspired similar projects in Scandinavian waters and in the Mediterranean Sea. Frederick N. Gisborne, an English engineer, was the first to conceive the notion of a transatlantic communication cable. In 1854, he encouraged Sir Marc Isambard Brunel to visit New York to persuade the young businessman Cyrus Field to form a cable company, after being assured by Morse that great distances would not hinder the telegraph’s operation. Lieutenant Matthew F. Maury, known as the father...
(The entire section is 1459 words.)
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