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Samuel F. B. Morse
By Mary L. Bushong

1     Have you ever wished you could send a secret message by code to your friends? What would you say? Samuel Morse came up with a code that could be used many different ways. He was not just an inventor, but a painter and businessman as well. Some people said he was an American Leonardo da Vinci.
2     Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. His father, Jedidiah Morse, was a distinguished geographer and church minister. Samuel was not a good scholar. School held little to interest him. He wanted to know more about electricity, but no one there could teach him. Instead he directed his efforts to learning the art of painting miniatures.
3     After graduating from Yale at the age of 19, he worked for a Boston publisher for a year, though painting continued to be his primary interest. In 1811, his parents helped him go to England to study the art of painting. While he was there the War of 1812 between England and the United States broke out. Many Britons became contemptuous of Americans, and Morse reacted to that by becoming a passionate patriot for his country.
4     When Samuel returned home in 1815, he found that American tastes in painting were much different than the British. The historical pictures he had painted were not sought after, and he had to go back to painting portraits. Working as an itinerant painter, he traveled over New England, New York, and South Carolina, finally settling in New York in 1825. His portraits are considered some of the finest that were produced by an American artist.
5     Though he was poor in those early years, he was at home in the company of the socially elite, scholars, and other artistic men. He possessed the gift of making friends easily. One of his political friends was the Marquis de Lafayette. He was also good friends with James Fenimore Cooper, the novelist.

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