Joseph Henry's Letter to Samuel F. B. Morse (February 24, 1842)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, then a professor at Princeton University and later first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the first telegraph, February 24, 1842. In the letter, Henry wishes Morse luck in constructing his telegraph and petitioning the United States Congress to adopt its use. Later, relations between Henry and Morse would sour, because Henry felt that Morse did not give him due credit for his previous work in electromagnetism in regards to Morse's creation of the telegraph. Though Morse was credited with having invented the first telegraph, Henry asserted that Dr. Leonard Gale, who advised Morse on his first model of an electromagnetic telegraph, was able to correct imperfections in the model because of his knowledge of Henry's principles.


  • Gale, Leonard D (Leonard Dunnell) 1800-1883
  • Morse, Samuel Finley Breese 1791-1872
  • Princeton University
  • United States Congress


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-0979 and SIA2012-0980, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 5, pages 150-151.

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 8, Folder: 4 - January-March 1842
  • Reingold, Nathan, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 5, The Princeton Years: January 1841-December 1843 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1985), 150-151

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


February 24, 1842

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Telegraph
  • Publications
  • Inventors
  • Secretaries
  • Models (representations)
  • Letters
  • Controversies
  • Inventions
  • Science
  • Electromagnets
  • Models
  • Electromagnetism


United States


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-2848 and SIA2012-2849 and SIA2012-2850

Physical description

Number of Images: 3 ; Color: Color ; Size: 7 3/4w x 9 3/4h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

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