Biographies & Memoirs

Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse

Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse

This brilliantly conceived biography is the very American tale of a quiet man, raised by religious zealots, who became a gifted and prolific painter (more than three hundred portraits and historical canvases), became the first Professor of Fine Arts at an American college, and founded the National Academy of Design. A classic overachiever, this was simply not enough for Samuel F. B. Morse; he subsequently ran for Congress and mayor of New York. Lastly, in his most famous life's work, he invented a machine that was to transform commerce, communication, transportation, military affairs, diplomacy, and the course of the modern world. What invention could be so revolutionary?

Part I: FINLEY

Chapter 1: Geography (1789–1811)

Chapter 2: No One Uninspired by the Muses May Enter (1811–1815)

Chapter 3: A Terrible Harum-Scarum Fellow (1816—1823)

Chapter 4: An Affection of the Heart (1823–1829)

Part II: MORSE

Chapter 5: Il Diavolo (1830–1832)

Chapter 6: Anomalous, Nondescript, Hermaphrodite (1832–1837)

Chapter 7: High Attribute of Ubiquity (1837–1838)

Chapter 8: Traveling on a Snail’s Back (1838–1839)

Chapter 9: Beware of Tricks (1839—1842)

Chapter 10: Hurrah Boys Whip Up the Mules (1843–1844)

Part III: SAMUEL F. B. MORSE

Chapter 11: Mere Men of Trade (1844–1845)

Chapter 12: Tantalus Still (1846–1848)

Chapter 13: The Great Telegraph Case (1849–1853)

Chapter 14: A True Social Fraternity (1854–1856)

Chapter 15: Can’t! Sir, Can’t! (1856–1857)

Chapter 16: Forward (1857–1860)

Part IV: COMMANDADOR

Chapter 17: Is This Treason? Is This Conspiracy? (1860–1865)

Chapter 18: Visions of Receding Glory (1866–1872)

Coda: 1872–2000

Documentation