Samuel Morse sent the first telegraphic message in May 1844. The new technology was adopted quickly in Kentucky and elsewhere. On February 27, 1847, the General Assembly passed an act "providing for the construction and protection of Morse's Magnetic Telegraph, in Kentucky." The act granted Morse and his "Electro Magnetic Telegraph" the right to construct lines "from point to point, upon and along any of the public roads and highways and through any of the public domain, across any of the waters within this State." The act also provided that "each and every free person" who "shall unlawfully and maliciously or intentionally injure, molest, or destroy any of the said lines" shall "be deemed guilty of a felony" and imprisoned from two to four years.
Early telegram sent from Bardstown, Kentucky, by "C.E.M." to Mary E. Brown at the Commercial Hotel, requesting the privilege of accompanying Brown to church, 1850. Kentucky Historical Society Collections.