In his early life, Samuel Morse was a painter, and also the first president of the National Academy of Design.
In 1832, during a voyage home from Europe where he studied painting, Morse heard about some new discoveries in electricity. Intrigued by its possibilities, Morse soon set to work building a telegraph machine that could use electricity to send messages. Along with the machine came his invention of the dot-and-dash telegraph code that still bears his name: Morse Code.
In 1838, Morse demonstrated his telegraph before President Martin Van Buren. Later, the United States Government agreed to build a telegraph line so that Morse’s invention could be tested.
A line was set up, stretching the 40 miles between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. And on May 24, 1844, the world’s first telegraph message was sent over that line. It consisted of just four words: “What hath God wrought.”