Samuel Morse, the Telegraph, and Government

Smithsonian magazine provides some background on Samuel Morse, inventor of Morse Code and credited with inventing the telegraph.

It is interesting background, but not particularly relevant for community broadband until a paragraph toward the end:

Four years later, in July of 1844, news reached Paris and the rest of Europe that Professor Morse had opened a telegraph line, built with Congressional appropriation, between Washington and Baltimore, and that the telegraph was in full operation between the two cities, a distance of 34 miles.

From the beginning of telecommunications, the government played an essential role.