an engraving of Polk's Inauguration
Polk was the first president whose inauguration was reported by telegraph. Today, with live television coverage and internet streaming, it’s hard to imagine a time when the news was reported only through written accounts. Samuel F.B. Morse used the first telegraph line in the country, from Washington to Baltimore, to provide almost immediate political coverage. During the 1844 presidential election, which Polk narrowly won, he transmitted the official results between the two cities (results from the northern states came into Baltimore and the southern results into Washington). These transmissions helped to prove the practical advantages of the technology.
Did you know that in addition to patenting the telegraph, Samuel Morse was also an artist? In fact, the Fenimore Art Museum , owns a portrait Morse painted of Justice Samuel Nelson, who began his career as a Supreme Court justice just before Polk took office. Nelson lived in Cooperstown and owned the land that is now occupied by the museum, and his law office is part of the historic village.
Samuel Nelson by Samuel F.B.Morse. Gift of Stephen C. Clark N0339.1955The Brooklyn Museum recently blogged about Samuel FB Morse as an artist. You can read more about him here.