Today in 1861, the transcontinental telegraph, the first instant communications link between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, was completed. That evening, the first messages were sent to President Abraham Lincoln. The message from Horace W. Carpentier, president of the Overland Telegraph Co., read: “I announce to you that the telegraph to California has this day been completed. May it be a bond of perpetuity between the states of the Atlantic and those of the Pacific.”
Instant communications made the Pony Express obsolete, and it officially ceased operations two days later. For its 18 months of operation, the Pony Express reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about ten days.
Life without instant communication (and before travel by railway), is described well by Stephen Ambrose in Undaunted Courage: ““A critical fact in the world of 1801 was that nothing moved faster than the speed of a horse. No human being, no manufactured item, no bushel of wheat … no letter, no information, no idea, order, or instruction of any kind moved faster. Nothing ever had moved any faster, and, as far as contemporaries were able to tell, nothing ever would.”