Category Archives: history

Morse, painting, and loss

You’ve probably heard of Samuel F. B. Morse in the context of his contributions to telegraphy.

I first learned that he started out life as a painter during my sophomore year in college. I was editor of the campus newspaper and ¬†was interviewing Andrew Ford, the then-new president of my school, in his office. He pointed to the portrait of former president Elihu Baldwin on the wall, and said “did you know that Samuel Morse painted that?”

Turns out that the story of Morse’s Wabash connection is moderately interesting (er… at least if you went to Wabash).

But for a really good story, check out this episode of The Memory Palace podcast from a couple of years ago. It tells the somewhat heartbreaking story of how Morse the  painter became driven to improve the speed of communication.

(By the way, The Memory Palace is produced way too infrequently, but is absolutely worth a listen every time).