Following the success of a New York-Newfoundland telegraph line, philanthropist Cyrus Field convinced the governments of American and Great Britain to fund a transatlantic line. It would take 2,500 miles of cable to complete the job, and construction was interrupted often by errors. Cables snapped, ships wrecked, and money was running out. Meanwhile, the American South was watching the progress with anticipation. Newspapers were quick to report the many failures and setbacks of the line throughout the South in places from Louisiana to South Carolina to Mississippi.
Eventually, the cable was laid properly, and the line succeeded. Public enthusiasm about its success was magnificent, and pieces of extra cable were even sold as souvenirs. President Buchanan and Queen Victoria exchanged the first message on August 16, 1858. Unfortunately, the cable stopped working four months later, but the precedent was set. For the first time, rapid inter-continental communication was possible. This would become extremely important as the North and South sought international aid and backing in the first months of the Civil War.