Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone On this day in 1876, 29-year-old Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for his revolutionary new invention–the telephone. The Scottish-born Bell worked in London with his father, Melville Bell, who developed Visible Speech, a written system used to teach speaking to the deaf. In the 1870s, the Bells moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where the younger Bell found work as a teacher at the Pemberton Avenue School for the Deaf. He later married one of his students, Mabel Hubbard. While in Boston, Bell became very interested in the possibility of transmitting speech over wires. Samuel F.B. Morse’s invention of the telegraph in 1843 had made nearly instantaneous communication possible between two distant points. The drawback of the telegraph, however, was that it still required hand-delivery of messages between telegraph stations and recipients, and only one message could be transmitted at a time. Bell wanted to improve on this by creating a “harmonic telegraph,” a device that combined aspects of the telegraph and record player to allow individuals to speak to each other from a distance. With the help of Thomas A. Watson, a Boston machine shop employee, Bell developed a prototype. In this first telephone, sound waves caused an electric current to vary in intensity and frequency, causing a thin, soft iron plate–called the diaphragm–to vibrate. These vibrations were transferred magnetically to another wire connected to a diaphragm in another, distant instrument. When that diaphragm vibrated, the original sound would be replicated in the ear of the receiving instrument. Three days after filing the patent, the telephone carried its first intelligible message–the famous “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you”–from Bell to his assistant. 1885 Kansas quarantines Texas cattle The Kansas legislature passes a law barring Texas cattle from the state between March 1 and December 1, the latest action reflecting the love-hate relationship between Kansas and the cattle industry. Texans had adopted the practice of driving cattle northward to railheads in Kansas shortly after the Civil War. From 1867 to 1871, the most popular route was the legendary Chisholm Trail that ran from San Antonio to Abilene, Kansas. Attracted by the profits to be made providing supplies to ranchers and a good time to trail-weary cowboys, other struggling Kansas frontier towns maneuvered to attract the Texas cattle herds. Dodge City, Caldwell, Ellsworth, Hays, and Newton competed with Abilene to be the top “Cow Town” of Kansas. As Kansas lost some of its Wild West frontier edge, though, the cowboys and their cattle became less attractive. Upstanding town residents anxious to attract investment capital and nurture local businesses became increasingly impatient with rowdy young cowboys and their messy cattle. The new Kansas farmers who were systematically dividing the open range into neat rectangles of crops were even less fond of the cattle herds. Although the cowboys attempted to respect farm boundaries, stray cattle often wreaked havoc with farmers’ crops. “There was scarcely a day when we didn’t have a row with some settler,” reported one cowboy. Recognizing that the future of the state was in agriculture, the Kansas legislature attempted to restrict the movement of Texas cattle. In 1869, the legislature excluded cattle entirely from the east-central part of the state, where farmers were settling most quickly. Complaints from farmers that the Texas cattle were giving their valuable dairy cows tick fever and hoof-and-mouth disease eventually led to even tighter controls. On this day in 1885, the Kansas legislature enacted a strict quarantine. The quarantine closed all of Kansas to Texan cattle for all but the winter months of December, January, and February-the time of the year when the diseases were not as prevalent. These laws signaled the end of the Kansas role in the Texas cattle industry. The open range was rapidly closing, hemmed in by miles and miles of barbed wire fence. With the extension of rail lines into Texas itself, the reason for making the long drives north to Kansas began to disappear by the late 1880s anyway. The Kansas quarantine laws became irrelevant as most Texans could more easily ship cattle via railheads in their own states. 1950 Soviet Union denies Klaus Fuchs served as its spy Just one week after British physicist Klaus Fuchs was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in passing information on the atomic bomb to the Russians, the Soviet Union issues a terse statement denying any knowledge of Fuchs or his activities. Despite the Russian disclaimer, Fuchs’ arrest and conviction led to the uncovering of a network of individuals in the United States and Great Britain who had allegedly engaged in spying activities for the Soviet Union during World War II. Fuchs worked on developing the atomic bomb during World War II, both in Great Britain and as part of the super-secret Manhattan Project in the United States. In February 1950, British officials arrested him and charged him with passing information concerning the atomic bomb to the Soviets. After his arrest, Fuchs implicated an American, Harry Gold, as someone who served as a courier between himself and Soviet agents. Gold fingered David Greenglass, who also worked on the Manhattan Project, and Greenglass informed on his brother-in-law and sister, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Eventually, Gold and Greenglass were sentenced to jail terms for their roles. The Rosenbergs were convicted and sentenced to death; they were executed in 1953. The Soviets consistently denied any part in the spy ring. In a statement released on March 7, 1950, the Russians declared that any confession by Fuchs indicating that he was working for the Soviet Union was a “gross fabrication since Fuchs is unknown to the Soviet Government and no ‘agents’ of the Soviet Union had any connection with Fuchs.” The exact level of Soviet spying, as well as the value of any information it succeeded in digging up as a result of such activity, has never been precisely determined. Fuchs was released from prison in 1959 and spent his remaining years living with his father in East Germany.