Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Reporters rush to file their stories in the House telegraph office.
On this date, during the 28th Congress
(1843–1845), the first news of House business was submitted by telegraph
. Inventor, Samuel Morse—who, on the previous day, had sent the first ever telegraph signal
from the Supreme Court Chamber (then located in the Capitol building) to demonstrate his invention—tapped a message to the Baltimore Patriot
newspaper that the House had rejected going into the Committee of the Whole to discuss the establishment of the territorial government in Oregon. This first dispatch of congressional business via Morse’s invention opened a new era of congressional reporting. News outlets outside Washington, which typically relied on days-old reports delivered by local newspapers and “letter writers” posted in the galleries, marveled at the new instant communication. “Space is . . . annihilated,” announced the Baltimore magazine, Niles National Register
. “By the time the result of the vote of congress is announced by the speaker, in the capitol, it is known at the Pratt street depot, in the city of Baltimore!” Morse began selling reports on congressional business to the Baltimore American
newspaper for a penny per word.