Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791–1872), famous American inventor of 'lightning wires' and 'Morse code', an electronic alphabet that could carry messages. Morse applied for a patent for his inventions in 1840; a line was subsequently constructed between Baltimore and Washington and the first message, "What hath God wrought!", was sent on May 24, 1844. By 1861, the two coasts of the United States were linked by telegraph. Morse’s work was clearly built upon advances made by others on both the telegraph and from earlier codes, such as the semaphore. This led some to question his title as “inventor of the telegraph,” and he was forced to defend his invention in court. By then, however, his public demonstrations had captured the attention of the world, and he was forever linked with the invention of the telegraph.