Samuel F. B. Morse, once a portrait painter, turned to inventing to make his fortune. Morse had little training in electricity but realized that pulses of electrical current could convey information over wires. Morse developed 'lightning wires' and 'Morse code,' an electronic alphabet that could carry messages. The patent was applied for in 1840. A line was constructed between Baltimore and Washington and the first message, sent on May 24,1844, was 'What hath God wrought!' In 1861 the two coasts of the United States were linked by telegraph. By the time Morse had written this check, he had become an extremely wealthy man. A Samuel Morse autograph is a telegraphic wonder.