July 29, 1866

Completion of the Transatlantic Cable

Library of Congress

The transatlantic cable, completed in July 1866, was the beginning of fast communication across the seas. Massachusetts merchant and financier Cyrus W. Field first proposed laying a 2,000-mile copper cable along the ocean bottom from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1854, but the first three attempts ended in broken cables and failure. Field's persistence finally paid off in July 1866, when Great Eastern, the largest ship then afloat, successfully laid the cable along the level, sandy bottom of the North Atlantic. As messages traveled between Europe and America in hours rather than weeks, Cyrus Field was showered with honors. Among the honors was this commemorative print referring to the cable as the Eighth Wonder of the World. 
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