crossing the ocean, sailing on a giant spool of thread

Posted by

But in 1866, the Old and New Worlds were united by the successful laying of a cable across the Atlantic. John Steele Gordon’s book chronicles this extraordinary achievement — the brainchild of American businessman Cyrus Field and one of the greatest engineering feats of the nineteenth century. An epic struggle, it required a decade of effort, numerous failed attempts, millions of dollars in capital, a near disaster at sea, the overcoming of seemingly insurmountable technological problems, and uncommon physical, financial, and intellectual courage. Bringing to life an overlooked story in the annals of technology, John Steele Gordon sheds fascinating new light on this American saga that literally changed the world.Audiobook and paperback only.

A Thread Across the Ocean

In a world in which news and information flashes around the globe in an instant, time lags are inconceivable. But they were a fact of life in the 19th century. One of those adept, impressively learned, sometimes impractical 19-century woodshed thinkers and tinkers, Cyrus Field, knew only a little of the hard science behind stringing a submarine telegraph cable that would link the financial markets of London and New York.
Field was not the first to conceive such a venture, but he was the first to act on the idea, writing to Samuel Morse and finding another ally in the naval surveyor and architect Matthew Fontaine Maury. With the limited sum of $1.5 million, Field and company eventually managed to make the transatlantic cable a reality, and even if its early iterations turned out to be duds, their work did in fact revolutionize communications and “laid down the foundations of what would become…a global village.”

A Thread Across the Ocean Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

John Steele Gordon (Author), Scott Brick (Narrator), Random House Audio (Publisher)

First transatlantic telegraph cable completed

1858 August 05 After several unsuccessful attempts, the first telegraph line across the Atlantic Ocean is completed, a feat accomplished largely through the efforts of American merchant Cyrus West Field.

The telegraph was first developed by Samuel F. B. Morse, an artist-turned-inventor who conceived of the idea of the electric telegraph in 1832. Several European inventors had proposed such a device, but Morse worked independently and by the mid 1830s had built a working telegraph instrument. In the late 1830s, he perfected Morse Code, a set of signals that could represent language in telegraph messages. In May 1844, Morse inaugurated the world’s first commercial telegraph line with the message “What hath God wrought,” sent from the U.S. Capitol to a railroad station in Baltimore. Within a decade, more than 20,000 miles of telegraph cable crisscrossed the country. The rapid communication it made possible greatly aided American expansion, making railroad travel safer as it provided a boost to business conducted across the great distances of a growing United States.

Cyrus West Field

In 1854, Cyrus West Field conceived the idea of the telegraph cable and secured a charter to lay a well-insulated line across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Obtaining the aid of British and American naval ships, he made four unsuccessful attempts, beginning in 1857. In July 1858, four British and American vessels the Agamemnon, the Valorous, the Niagara, and the Gorgon–met in mid-ocean for the fifth attempt. On July 29, the Niagara and the Gorgon, with their load of cable, departed for Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, while the Agamemnon and the Valorous embarked for Valentia, Ireland. By August 5, the cable had been successfully laid, stretching nearly 2,000 miles across the Atlantic at a depth often of more than two miles. On August 16, President James Buchanan and Queen Victoria exchanged formal introductory and complimentary messages. Unfortunately, the cable proved weak and the current insufficient and by the beginning of September had ceased functioning. Field later raised new funds and made new arrangements. In 1866, the British ship Great Eastern succeeded in laying the first permanent telegraph line across the Atlantic Ocean. Cyrus West Field was the object of much praise on both sides of the Atlantic for his persistence in accomplishing what many thought to be an impossible undertaking. He later promoted other oceanic cables, including telegraph lines that stretched from Hawaii to Asia and Australia.

I listened to this book at night and often dreamed of crossing the ocean, sailing on a giant spool of thread. (EZM)

Edited by EZorrilla.

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-transatlantic-telegraph-cable-completed

A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable

  • Paperback : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0060524464
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0060524463
  • Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.62 x 8 inches
  • Publisher : Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: : English

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s