Alfred Vail Fails to Credit Joseph Henry for Development of Telegraph

Close
Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.
Print

Narrow Your Results

Reset

Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.
 

Summary

Alfred Vail, partner of Samuel F. B. Morse, publishes a book on the development of the telegraph and with only a passing reference to the work of Joseph Henry (1797-1878), physicist and professor at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Although Vail claims this to be an unintentional oversight and Morse insists he has nothing to do with the book's contents, their private correspondence indicates otherwise. Vail and Morse do not want the book to interfere with Morse's application for a patent on two crucial components of the telegraph by crediting Henry with their invention. While Henry had willingly advised and publicly endorsed Morse up until this point, this marks the end of cordial relations between the two.

Subject

  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Morse, Samuel Finley Breese 1791-1872
  • Vail, Alfred

Category

Chronology of Smithsonian History

Notes

  • Rothenberg, Marc, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, The Princeton Years, January 1844 - December 1846, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992, pp. 326-27, 376-77, 385, 520-22.
  • Moyer, Albert. Joseph Henry: The Rise of an American Scientist. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 239-47.
  • Vail, Alfred. The American Electro Magnetic Telegraph: With the Reports of Congress, and a Description of All Telegraphs Known Employing Electricity or Galvanism. Philadelphia, 1845.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu

Date

1845

Topic

  • Electric apparatus and appliances
  • Telegraph
  • Patent infringement
  • Inventors
  • Controversies
  • Inventions
  • Science
  • Electromagnets
  • History
  • Electromagnetic telegraph
  • Science--History

Place

United States

Full Record

View Full Record