Morse studied painting in London. He became a successful portrait painter and a sculptor. In 1825 he helped found the National Academy of Design in New York City. He continued his painting. Samuel became a professor of painting and sculpture at New York University in 1832.
In 1843 the U.S. Congress appropriated $30,000 for Morse to construct an experimental telegraph line between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland. The line was successfully installed, and on May 24, 1844, Morse sent the first message: "What hath God wrought!"