Once upon a time earmarks on legislation promoted the best inventions, and consequently, the economic success of the United States. Below is the image of a vote count made by Samuel F. B. Morse on the bill to provide money to develop the telegraph. Image and the text of explanation both come from the Morse Collection at the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress.
By 1842, funding from the U.S. Congress was essential if the now-impoverished Morse was to be able to build and prove his telegraph system. On February 23, 1843, his bill for appropriated funding passed in the House of Representatives by a slim majority of 89 to 83 (with 70 not voting), but obviously every vote was crucial. This annotated member list of the twenty-six states may have been used by Morse before, during, or after the vote. The symbol “O” is thought to indicate an assenting vote, “-” a dissenting vote, and “>” no vote.