“What hath God wrought?” is the question Samuel F.B. Morse typed out on the simple hobbled together telegraph machine in the chambers of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., on May 24th, 1844. He chose the phrase because the woman he was in loved had suggested it. A few seconds later, a message was received in return all the way from Baltimore. The communication age was underway.
The 1800’s were years of rapid industrial development in the United States. Finished by 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad joined the two coasts, and the continent could be crossed in a matter of little more than a week whereas it had taken months.
American society changed from one centered in semi-rural small communities with predictable cycles to one of growing cities undergoing change that was so rapid that even the founder of the modern car industry, Henry Ford, conceived of his new Model-T car as a rural vehicle and advertised it as such: “stronger than a horse and easier to take care of.”
In the 1800s−only Philadelphia and New York City had populations of more than 25,000 people—became an industrial superpower during the 1800s. Its territory increased four-hundred percent from roughly 1,000,000 square miles to almost four million, and its population grew ten-fold from seven million people in 1810, to seventy million by 1890.
The nation’s frenetic pace of growth accelerated social change which caused great anxiety. Many Christians saw God’s Hand at work and sought certainty in a more powerful sense of faith.
Joseph Smith founded a new form of Christianity that would develop into a huge international Christian Church, the Church of Jesus-Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, which sought a purer, ‘restored’ form of Christianity. A New York farmer, William Miller, came to believe that by 1844, the Second Coming was at hand and his numerous followers became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Click below for more information about the Mormons, the Millerites, and the Transcontinental Railroad.