In 1854, American merchant Cyrus West Field secured a charter to lay a telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean’s floor.
After four failed attempts, American and British naval ships succeeded in laying a nearly 2,000-mile cable linking Ireland and Newfoundland in the summer of 1858. Queen Victoria’s 98-word inaugural message to President James Buchanan took 16 hours to transmit. Not quick, but speedier than packet steamships’ 10-day transatlantic transits.
The communications link, though, ceased working after only a few weeks. Field persisted, however, and contracted the British vessel Great Eastern, the largest ship afloat at the time, to lay a permanent telegraph cable in 1866 that vastly quickened transatlantic communication.