Samuel F. B. Morse's Letter to Joseph Henry (October 17, 1846)

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Letter from Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the first telegraph, to Joseph Henry, then a professor at Princeton University and later first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, October 17, 1846. In the letter, Morse apologizes for offending Henry by not crediting Henry's work in electromagnetism in aiding him in the invention of his 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.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Gale, Leonard D (Leonard Dunnell) 1800-1883
  • Princeton University


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-0976, SIA2012-0977, and SIA2012-0978, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 6, pages 520-522.

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 8, Folder: 22 - October 1846
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 6, The Princeton Years: January 1844-December 1846 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1992), 520-522

Contact information

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


October 17, 1846

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


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


United States


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-2899 and SIA2012-2900 and SIA2012-2901 and SIA2012-2902 and SIA2012-2903

Physical description

Number of Images: 5 ; Color: Color ; Size: 8w x 10h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

Full Record

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