Samuel Finley Breese Morse 1791 – 1872 was a patron of homeopathy and he was an American painter of portraits and historic scenes, the creator of a single wire telegraph system, and co-inventor, with Alfred Vail, of the Morse Code.
Morse’s practical mind was unusual in an artist, but his mental faculties were also honed by the religious debates and the wars of the time. His father was a Calvanist Minister at a time when the Church split, and financial recessions forced many practicalities upon him.
Morse travelled to Europe to study art, and as he worked to perfect his painting techniques at the Royal Academy, the reverberations from the war of independence between America and England were still raw, and the Napoleonic wars were only recently ended. Morse incoprorated many of these political upheavals in his paintings.
On the sea voyage home in 1832 Morse encountered Charles Thomas Jackson of Boston who was well schooled in electromagnetism. Witnessing various experiments with Jackson’s electromagnet, Morse developed the concept of a single wire telegraph, and his painting of “The Gallery of the Louvre” was set aside. He was devising his telegraph code even before the ship docked. In time the Morse code would become the primary language of telegraphy in the world.
Jackson’s milleau was of the radical counter culture of America, which at this time was boiling with intelligentsia and new influences, spiritualism, abolitionism, suffrage, civil rights, transcendentalism, Universalism and the radical new methods in society and in medicine, such as the use of electromagnetism in homeopathy and the flood of new provings of x-ray, electricity (proving by Carl Gottlob Caspari, a colleague of Samuel Hahnemann in 1834), magnet and other wondrous new substances which homeopaths call imponderables.
Franz Anton Mesmer started using magnets in the late 1700s. The development of electric current in various forms in the 1700s brought about all kinds of experiments in clinical electromagnetism. In the USA, over 10,000 doctors were using electromagnetism on a daily basis by the 1880s….
Homeopaths were very much drawn to the electrical nature of healing. Harold Van Gelder and others were aware that their homeopathic remedies were actually energetic frequencies that had a corrective effect in the body. They noted that microcurrents, tiny amounts of electrical current, when passed through the body produced a very rapid normalization of function.
On both sides of this argument, the background of old wars and the build up to new wars (American Civil War) is felt. Morse immediately saw the practicality of Morse Code, whereas Charles Thomas Jackson saw the transcendental potential, and it is probable they discussed all of this on that voyage back home to America.
In such a ferment of ideas many new things emerge. This is how the old World gives birth to the new.