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Posts: 2,220 Member Since: 10/04/08


Oct 1 09 8:23 PM

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The longest morse code message ever ?

On October 26, 1864, James W. Nye, Governor of the Territory of Nevada, began sending a telegram to President Abraham Lincoln.
This message, transmitted in Morse code, contains the entire text of the Nevada State Constitution.
Sending such a long telegram at the height of the Civil War was a challenge -- with no direct link from Carson City to Washington, DC, telegrapher James H. Guild worked seven hours to transmit the message to Salt Lake City, where it was resent to Chicago, then Philadelphia, and finally to the War Department’s telegraph Office in Washington, DC, two days later, where a 175-page transcription was made.
The final page shows the total word count (16,543) and cost ($4313.27—or $59,229 in today’s dollars) of the transmission.

Frustrated that certified copies of the Nevada Constitution, sent earlier by overland mail and by sea, had failed to arrive in Washington, DC, by October 24, Governor Nye of the Nevada Territory ordered that the State Constitution be sent by wire. Three days after receiving this telegram—just eight days before the Presidential election—Lincoln proclaimed, in accordance with an Act of Congress, that Nevada was admitted into the Union, thus hoping to ensure his own re-election, as well as the election of like-minded Republicans in Congress.

This 175-page transcription of the longest telegram in the holdings of the National Archives is on display in an exhibition entitled "BIG!, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the National Archives," features big records, big events, and big ideas – and includes this 1864 telegram.
The exhibition runs through January 3, 2010 in Washington, DC, before being prepared for national touring.

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Posts: 1,579 Member Since:11/05/08

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Nov 26 11 8:35 PM

Longest Morse code message

An article published on this website in October of 2009 and titled 'The longest morse code message ever ?' has prompted this response from Charlie Wellander.
In an email to Southgate News, Charlie says:
On your web page - The longest morse code message ever ? - you have a quite accurate recounting of the very long telegram/Morse code message sent within the USA from Nevada to Washington, DC, in 1864.
The folks at the the Nevada State Library and Archives have now discovered that an even longer (over seven times as long, in fact) telegram/Morse code message was sent in 1881 from England to Chicago. Here’s the link and some of their text. I thought you might be particularly interested because of the England connection!

Was the Nevada Constitution the longest telegram?
The question comes up every year:  Was the Nevada Constitution the longest telegram ever sent?  Was it the longest until 1864? 
Pages 8 & 9 of the publication, Nevada, the Centennial of Statehood: An Exhibition in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., June 23, 1965, to October 31, 1965, (Washington: Library of Congress, 1965) reproduce the first and last pages of the telegram of the Nevada Constitution.  The source is cited as the Nevada Territorial Papers in the National Archives.  The last sheet contains a note with the total word count (16,543) and the cost of transmission ($4,303.27).
For more than twenty years Nevada Archives staff followed leads of longer telegrams, but did not found proof of any until now.  Newspaper articles made claims that something was the longest and now web sites are doing it, but few stood up to the 16,000 word telegram.
BUT, according to David McKittrick’s, History of Cambridge University Press (New York, 2004) and Maurice Price’s, An Ancestry of Our English Bible… (New York, 1921), on May 21, 1881, the English Standard Version of the New Testament,  the first revision since the 1611 King James Bible, was published in England, transmitted across the Trans-Atlantic cable, telegraphed from New York to Chicago and published in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Times on May 22, 1881.  It was 118,000 words making it the longest telegram ever sent.
It was the biggest scoop of the year for a United States’ newspaper according to the History of the Chicago Tribune, (1922).  The publishers explained that 92 compositors typeset the work in twelve hours. The Chicago Times printed it because it did not want to “scooped” by the Tribune, whose editors criticized the Times’ version as full of errors.  They did not think that the telegram was the feat, but the typesetting.
That makes Nevada’s Constitution the second longest telegram in history and the longest up until 1881, until someone finds one longer.
Charlie Wellander

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