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MORSE, SAMUEL F.B. - What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor? “How can you account for the omission of the box of old cognac?”
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MORSE, SAMUEL F.B. - What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor? “How can you account for the omission of the box of old cognac?”

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MORSE, SAMUEL F.B. (1791-1872). American artist and inventor of the telegraph and the code that bears his name; founder of the National Academy of Design. ALS. (“Sam. F.B. Morse”). 1p. 4to. New York, May 7, 1861. To WILLIAM STICKNEY (1827-1881), co-founder of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf (later Gallaudet University) and private secretary to his father-in-law, the influential politician and telegraph magnate Amos Kendall.


I called this morning at Mess. Hyde & Goodrich’s to deliver the invoice you left of wines &c. They have received two bills of lading, and it seems the articles are divided upon two vessels. One the “William Frothingham” Capt. Stetson from Havre, containing nos. 1119. 1120. 1121. 1122.--1124. No. 1123 is not in bill of lading, nor in the other, which is the “Wm. Nelson” Capt. Cheever also from Havre. This latter vessel has the box of vine plants only. It seems you will be obliged to be here to make oath to the Invoice at the Custom house, since the invoice is in your name. The vessels have neither of them yet arrived. Perhaps by the time the latter vessel arrives, you will be here. How can you account for the omission of the box of old cognac? Truly yrs. &c…”


In 1832, on a return voyage departing from LeHavre Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph system, whereupon he filed a caveat for his invention with the U.S. Patent Office in September 1837. By 1844, the mechanism that introduced the world to instantaneous electronic communication was in operation. In 1845, shortly after sending the first telegraphed message, “What hath God wrought!” from the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court to the B&O Railroad depot in Baltimore, Morse hired lawyer, journalist and politician Amos Kendall as his business manager. Despite legal difficulties and precarious finances, Morse “enjoyed the acclaim, honors, and emoluments of a great inventor and public personage... [and] ultimately... attained to wealth,” (DAB.). Though best remembered as the inventor of the single-wire telegraph system, Morse was also a talented and renowned artist, whose paintings included portraits of political figures such as presidents John Adams and Monroe and the 1821 Hall of Congress, which depicted the newly constructed capital.


Stickney was a Maine native and lawyer who became Kendall’s son-in-law and private secretary in 1852. He served Kendall in that capacity for the remainder of the latter’s life and edited his autobiography, published in 1872. He co-founded the Columbia Institution with his father-in-law, and served on its board of directors until his death in 1881.


Hyde & Goodrich was a New Orleans-based importer, manufacturer and retailer self-described as “Importers and sellers of fancy goods, etc.” The William Frothingham was a packet ship which, under Captain Stetson, moved goods and passengers between New York and the French port city of Le Havre. The William Nelson, was also a packet ship that operated between North American and Europe operated by Captain Charles Cheever.


Boldly penned and signed in Morse’s elegant hand. Folded with some light creasing. The integral address leaf is attached and bears a small wax seal tear. In very fine condition.




Item #19743



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