Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The First Telegraph

There was one institution in our country which many people had long felt should be stopped. This was slavery. Even in 1688 the Quakers declared it was wrong, and made the first petition to have it ended. This opinion spread little by little, until, as you know, laws were made in several states, stopping or abolishing slavery.

People now began to say that in a Christian country, and especially in a republic where "all men are created equal," it was very unjust and even sinful to allow one class of human beings to be bought and sold, and treated like cattle. Those who talked thus and said slavery must stop were called "abolitionists." To gain more influence and bring others to share their views, they soon formed what were known as "abolition societies."

The people in New England were in general against slavery, and, as many of the clever men and women of the day were abolitionists, they began to write and talk against slavery as much as they could. Now, it happened that clever people were just then very numerous in our country, and among them were our brightest literary stars, men whose names should be familiar to every good American.

There were, for instance, our famous poets, Bryant, Poe, Whittier, Longfellow, and Lowell; our novelists, Cooper and Hawthorne; our essayists, Irving, Emerson, and Holmes; our historians, Prescott, Bancroft, Motley, and Parkman; the great naturalists Audubon and Agassiz; and countless other men who had the welfare of our country at heart.

Noah Webster, a great student, had worked hard for more than twenty years to make a big dictionary. He also wrote primers and a spelling book; and, instead of writing words just as they pleased, Americans learned to spell alike. They were so glad to do so that they considered it great fun to have young and old take part in "'spelling bees," or "spelling matches." Webster's dictionary thus proved a great help to literature, and every one admired and respected the man who made it, and of whom it has been said: "He taught millions to read, but not one to sin."

A spelling match


There were, as we have seen, more and better newspapers. Some were written by men who were strong abolitionists, so they were called antislavery papers. The first and most famous of all these editors was a man named William Lloyd Garrison, who, although poor, devoted all his time and money to a paper wherein he tried to convince people that slavery is wrong. These papers were sent everywhere; but the people in the South soon learned to hate them so bitterly that a law was made forbidding such papers to be sent in the Southern mails.

Among other interesting inventions of this time was the making of the first photographs, or daguerreotypes. Then there was also the discovery that a patient could be put to sleep, so that he need not feel pain, while doctors performed an operation. But the greatest change in our country, and, indeed, in the whole world, was brought about at this time by the invention of the electric telegraph, by Samuel Morse.

You have heard, have you not, how Benjamin Franklin made his electrical experiments? Well, once when Morse was on his way to America, a passenger on the same ship told him that an electric current could be sent along a wire. Morse immediately thought that if such was the case, an electric current could be used to convey messages, and during that long sea trip he worked out the system which still bears his name.

Although poor, he spent every cent he had in making experiments. Then, when his plans were all ready, he laid them before Congress, and, after many discouraging delays, he was finally given thirty thousand dollars to build the first telegraph line in the United States. This was between Baltimore and Washington, and Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University, invented the machine to lay the wires.

But, after the greater part of the money had been spent in vain efforts to make underground wires work, Morse hung them on poles, and the first official message was sent over the line in 1844, by the young lady who had brought Morse the welcome news that Congress had given him thirty thousand dollars. She telegraphed the words: "What hath God wrought!" Two days later a message was sent from Baltimore to Washington, to announce that Polk was to run for President, but some people refused to believe it until the news reached them in the usual way.

Since then telegraph lines have been built in every direction. Wires run now underground as well as above it, and a way has also been found to lay them in the sea: