The Spread of Information

Telegraph stations in the United States, the Canadas & Nova Scotia.

Map of Telegraph stations on the East Coast in 1853

With the first test of the telegraph system being a resounding success for Samuel Morse in May of 1844, sending the message "What hath God wrought" from the capitol in Washington D.C to his assistant and business partner Alfred Vail in Baltimore, the implications of this new communication system were seemingly endless.

When Morse code and the Telegraph found widespread use in the early 1850's many of the ramifications of this development were being felt by the American people. Now political parties could send messages regarding campaigning in the states at the snap of a finger, abolitionists could send messages and information regarding meetings and rallies to different groups around the country, and even slave owners in the south could receive information and news regarding trading companies on the coast about their goods being shipped overseas to Europe.

First Telegraphic Message using Morse Code

The first Telegraph Message sent successfully reading: "What hath God Wrought"

Along with the economic and political aspect of increased communication over vast distances, social issues became increasingly nationalized due to the sharing of new information. With rising tensions between northern and southern states over the issues of slavery being a major theme of this time period, the question of Texas and the expansion of slavery in the south became a more heavily contested issue as information began flowing more freely between the slave states of the south and the free soilers of the north. The introduction of an instant system of communication physically linking the northern and southern parts of the nation increased drastically the amount of conflict between the two regions and physical clashes between the two warring parties.

News of the Mexican-American war between 1846 and 1848 were now beginning to be received more quickly as telegraph systems began expanding west following the settlement of new lands. Information regarding the election of 1848 also became a major push factor due to the introduction and use of the telegraph. This growing network of communication managed to somehow bring the nation closer together for several years as people basked in the light of this new technological masterpiece, while helping sow the seeds of dissent between the factions leading the United States and inevitably bringing the nation to the brink of war in the coming years over the issue of slavery.