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I Signed Up For Obama Text Message—A First Use Of Telegraph Was Coverage Of 1844 Democratic Convention

I signed up to get the text message from the Obama campaign that will announce his Vice Presidential selection. I did so after reading today about use of the telegraph at the 1844 Democratic Convention in the book What Hath God Wrought—The Transformation America, 1815-1848. This book, by Daniel Walker Howe, is the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history.

The 1844 Democratic Convention was held in Baltimore and nominated James K. Polk of Tennessee for President and George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania for Vice President. Dallas, Texas is named after Mr. Dallas.  

Here is information about the 1844 Election. Mr. Polk and Mr. Dallas won the election over Henry Clay of Kentucky.

The telegraph was invented by Samuel F.B. Morse and was first demonstrated in 1844.  

From the book— “ within a few days of the initial demonstration…Morse was keeping members of Congress in Washington abreast of developments at the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore as they happened….The first practical application of Morse’s invention—to report a political party convention—was no accident. The formation of mass political parties, their organization on local, state and national levels, the application of government patronage to knit them together, their espousal of rival political programs, and the ability to command the attention of the public all combined to give this period in American history its distinctive politicized quality. The rise of mass parties has often been traced to extending the franchise…to include virtually all white males. However, no parties with mass following could have come into existence without a revolution in communication. …Newspapers quickly enlisted the telegraph in their quest to gather and distribute information….”  

It’s silly I suppose to have signed up for the text message. Yet reading about first political use of a new type of communication in 1844, made me want to be part of the first mass political use of a relatively new form of communication in 2008.

Here is information about the telegraph and the history of the telegraph.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments