Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration
In the 19th century, the development of the telegraph changed the speed of communication. Samuel Morse transmitted the first official telegraphic message from the Capitol to Baltimore in 1844. Congress maintained an interest in the new technology because the rapid delivery of information could have tangible commercial and military effects for the nation. Passed in 1860, the Pacific Telegraph Act authorized the U.S. Treasury to fund the construction of a telegraph line across the continental United States. This ca. 1862 map, accompanying a petition to the House Committee on Commerce, proposes the survey and construction of a telegraph cable across the Pacific, from San Francisco to Moscow. Although telegraph technology continued to develop, this proposal was not accepted.