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S. F. B. Morse: A Great American Who Invented The Telegraph
by [?]

On the ocean, homeward bound from Havre to New York, in the first week of October, 1832, was sailing the packet-ship Sully, with a long list of passengers, among them Samuel Finley Breese Morse, a man so important in the history of America, both as an artist and an inventor, that it is fitting to look backward and see what influences went into the making of such a man.

On the twenty-seventh of April, 1791, the baby with the big name was born in a comfortable home in Charlestown, Mass. His father was the Reverend Jedediah Morse who was not only popular with his congregation but was the personal friend of General Washington and other great men of his time. His mother was the daughter of a Judge, and her grandfather had been president of Princeton college, so the baby who was born on that April day had a rich inheritance of good blood and love of education.

He was christened with the names of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, but the name was too long for daily use, so he was called “Finley” at home, and in college was given the name of “Geography” Morse.

His birth must have interested a large number of friends, for many letters of congratulation were sent to the proud parents and to others who knew them well. Dr. Belknap of Boston wrote to a friend in New York:

“Congratulate the Monmouth Judge (Mr. Breese) on the birth of a grandson. Next Sunday he is to be loaded with names, not quite as many as the Spanish Ambassador who signed the treaty of peace in 1783, but only

! He may have the sagacity of a Jewish Rabbi, or the profundity of a Calvin, or the sublimity of a Homer for aught I know. But time will bring forth all things.”

An interesting forecast, that, of the future of Finley Morse! He grew to be a perfectly normal small boy who kept his mother very busy looking after him, but was no more lively and mischievous than other boys of his age. Here is a quaint little note to him from his father’s friend, Mr. Wells, written when Finley was only two years old:

“My dear Little Boy,

As a small testimony of my respect and obligation to your excellent Parents and of my love to you I send you with this six (6) English Guineas. They are pretty playthings, and in the country I came from many people are fond of them. Your Papa will let you look at them, and then he will take care of them, and by the time you are grown up to be a Man, they will, under Papa’s wise management increase to twice their present number. With wishing you may never be in want of such playthings and yet never too fond of them, I remain your affectionate friend

Wm. M. Wells.

July 2, 1793.”

When he was four years old Finley was sent to a school for very little children, kept by “Old Ma’am Rand”. She was lame and could not walk across the room, but she kept a rattan rod by her side long enough to reach any naughty pupil in the room, and the children were much afraid of having this happen.

One day the teacher discovered Finley at the back of the room, busy “drawing” a picture of her with a sharp brass pin on the shiny wooden lid of a chest.

“Bring it to me!” commanded the old lady, and the boy came slowly forward, pin in hand. When he was near enough to reach, Old Ma’am Rand gripped him firmly and pinned him to her dress with the big pin. He struggled so hard that he got away and ran screaming to the end of the room with a piece of the old lady’s dress that had been torn in the struggle, hanging on his sleeve.