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A complete history of how the telegraph revolutionized technological practice and life in America.Telegraphy in the nineteenth century approximated the internet in our own day. Historian and electrical engineer David Hochfelder offers readers a comprehensive history of this groundbreaking technology, which employs breaks in an electrical current to send code along miles of wire. The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920 examines the correlation between technological innovation and social change and shows how this transformative relationship helps us to understand and perhaps define modernity. The telegraph revolutionized the spread of information—speeding personal messages, news of public events, and details of stock fluctuations. During the Civil War, telegraphed intelligence and high-level directives gave the Union war effort a critical advantage. Afterward, the telegraph helped build and break fortunes and, along with the railroad, altered the way Americans thought about time and space. With this book, Hochfelder supplies us with an introduction to the early stirrings of the information age.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Frontmatter
  2. pp. i-iv
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. vii-x
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  1. Introduction: Why the Telegraph Was Revolutionary
  2. pp. 1-5
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  1. 1 “Here the Telegraph Came Forceably into Play”: The Telegraph during the Civil War
  2. pp. 6-31
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  1. 2 “As a Telegraph for the People It Is a Signal Failure”: The Postal Telegraph Movement
  2. pp. 32-72
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  1. 3 “There Is a Public Voracity for Telegraphic News”: The Telegraph, Written Language, and Journalism
  2. pp. 73-100
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  1. 4 “The Ticker Is Always a Treacherous Servant”: The Telegraph and the Rise of Modern Finance Capitalism
  2. pp. 101-137
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  1. 5 “Western Union, by Grace of FCC and A.T.&T.”: The Telegraph, the Telephone, and the Logic of Industrial Succession
  2. pp. 138-175
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  1. Conclusion: The Promise of Telegraphy
  2. pp. 176-180
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  1. Chronology of the American Telegraph Industry
  2. pp. 181-188
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 189-228
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  1. Essay on Sources
  2. pp. 229-244
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 245-250
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  1. Illustrations
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