MORSE, Samuel Finley Breese (1791-1872). Autograph letter signed ("Saml:F:B:Morse") to Richard H. Dana (1815-1882), New York, 8 September 1843. 1¼ pages, 4to (10 x 7 15/16 in.), partial integral leaf with recipient's docket, very minor browning.
MORSE'S WORK ON THE TELEGRAPH, A "GOVERNMENT ENTERPRIZE" AND HIS RECOLLECTIONS OF WASHINGTON ALLSTON
A letter dated during a crucial and difficult phase of Morse's work installing and perfecting the first experimental electric telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Morse had conceived the design as early as 1832, and after preliminary experiments, had applied for a patent in 1837. After considerable effort, he had successfully obtained an appropriation of Congress in order to construct an experimental line, but the construction encountered numerous obstacles and delays (see, for example, the following lot). Here, Morse responds to a request from author Richard Dana for recollections of the artist Washington Allston (1779-1843), who had assisted Morse in his early career as a painter. Dana was editing the recently deceased Allston's Lectures on Art and Poems. Morse writes: "I am really distressed that I am wholly unable 'to make time' to prepare what you desire respecting the Pictures of dear Allston, or of even my recollections of him, unless such an account as ought to be given can be deferred until winter, and even then such is my situation of responsibility in relation to the Government enterprize in which I am engaged, that I do not positively promise." Morse admits that he has encountered some problems: "at this moment, disasters by the late flood, have created incidentally an exigency which demands from me more than usual attention...I need not amplify, nor reassert that I am truly distressed that I am so situated as to be unable for some time at least to comply with a request which under other circumstances, would not need to be urged." He offers , though, to "send you one other letter, the last I ever received from Allston. The passages marked are chracteristic of his natural benevolence."
In 1844, Morse completed his first telegraph line between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore and, on May 11 transmitted the first successful city to city message.