Samuel F. B. Morse, 1791-1872

[Mentioned in the Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 9]

Samuel F. B. Morse, artist and inventor, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. His father, one of the founders of the Theological Seminary at Andover and of the American Bible Society, was also known as the father of American geography. His mother, whom he painted reading by candlelight, was a cultivated woman, granddaughter of a college president.

Morse prepared for Yale at Phillips Academy, Andover. In a letter home from Andover, he speaks of some "very interesting" lectures on electricity, and at Yale there was probably greater scientific activity than anywhere else in the United States. Scientists were excited by Sir Humphrey Davy's experiments with the electric battery.

But Morse's interest in electricity was second to his interest in painting; he had been doing profiles and miniatures to defray college expenses. At commencement he wrote his father, "I still think I was made for a painter." He studied with Allston and accompanied him to England. One of Morse's paintings, "The Dying Hercules," was exhibited at the Royal Academy. A plaster model of this figure received a gold medal.

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Signs of the Times
July 26, 1958

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