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Cyrus W. Field. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110001).


Field, Cyrus West (30 November 1819–12 July 1892), financier and promoter of the transatlantic cable, was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the son of David Dudley Field, a Congregationalist minister, and Submit Dickinson. Field’s abiding interest in grand projects such as the Atlantic telegraph owed much to his upbringing. Reared in a strict yet emotionally supportive household, he acquired from his parents a taste for hard work, a zeal for organization, and a restless curiosity. He “never saw Cyrus so uneasy,” one of his brothers once aptly remarked, “as when he was trying to keep still” (Judson, p. 58). It was also an upbringing conducive to high achievement as three of Field’s brothers also rose to national prominence: ...


Wade, Jeptha Homer (11 August 1811–09 August 1890), financier and telegraph industry executive, was born in Romulus, Seneca County, New York, the son of Jeptha Wade, a surveyor and civil engineer, and Sarah Allen. After suffering the loss of his father at the age of two, Wade relocated with his family to Seneca Falls, New York. While details regarding his education remain sketchy, his family’s relative poverty sent him into the workplace at an early age. After working in a brickyard, he learned carpentry and then ran a sash and blind factory. In October 1832 he married Rebecca Loueza Facer, who died in November 1836. In September of the following year he married Susan M. Fleming and also developed what would become a lifelong interest in painting. After studying portrait painting with local artist Randall Palmer, he traveled westward in 1837 and for several years made his living as an itinerant painter. He traveled from New York as far south as Louisiana and as far west as Michigan, where he learned of a new device, the daguerreotype, which he soon used in conjunction with his painting....