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Telegraph Key and Sounder


In 1843, Congress funded a 38-mile telegraph line along the B&O Railroad’s Washington Branch. On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse (1791–1872) used a telegraph key like this one to send the first long-distance telegraph message “What Hath God Wrought?” from the basement of the U.S. Capitol building to the B&O’s Mount Clare Shops in West Baltimore. His invention, and language known as “Morse Code” changed the world.


circa 1870


Wood, metal, wire


8 L x 5 W x 4 H inches

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Gift of William Calvert Steuart

Digital Publisher

Digital resource provided by the Maryland Center for History and Culture


This digital image is made available here for private study, scholarship, and research. Commercial and other uses are prohibited without the permission of the Maryland Center for History and Culture. For more information, visit the MCHC’s Reproductions and Permissions web page.