The Fascinating History of Cross-Continental Telegraph Communication in the United States

Ryan Socash of It’s History explores the fascinating history of cross-continental telegraph communication within the United States.

Socash notes that original telegraph systems were used in ancient China with smoke signals, the inventions of the electronic version lay between scientists from both Britain and the United States, although American Samuel Morse wound up taking most of the credit due to his masterful Morse Code. The advent of the electronic telegraph coupled with Morse Code made communication far more convenient than the previous iteration of the horse-driven Pony Express.

While the telegraph found its origin in Britain, it hit its stride in the United States with Samuel Morse’s design, gaining international prestige and even a cable running across the Atlantic Ocean.

Yet, as with many early inventions, the telegraph machine became obsolete due to politics, competition, and new technologies. The development of the telephone was a fatal blow to the telegraph business.

The century came and went the telephone remained a rising star, beginning to outshine the telegraph at nearly every bend. …1945 the telephone’s rise was already too far along to stop …Today the telephone has almost completely replaced  it the American telegraph was one of the first  times communication could be considered truly fast. While it wasn’t the near instant speeds of today, it was the first step towards interconnectivity  that allows you to watch this video. Its importance and effect can’t be understated.

Telegraph in the United States
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.