Mr. Taylor to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I am at length enabled to give you some further information concerning the project of telegraphic communication between the United States and the Russian empire, which was submitted to the imperial ministry of foreign affairs by Mr. Cameron on the 17th of September.
Immediately on receiving your despatch No. 17, of October 21, I communicated to Prince Gortchacow the explanation which you desired to have made in relation to the assistance which it was hoped the undertaking would receive from the government of the United States. The application of Mr. Collins had already been referred to General Melnikoff, the chief director of ways of communication, and I suppose he likewise received the explanation. After several interviews with General Melnikoff and with General Kozakow, the governor general of Eastern Siberia, who is at present in this city, and who cordially favors the undertaking, Mr. Collins has at last received an official reply from the former, which, in substance, is equivalent to an acceptance of his plan.
General Melnikoff states that the imperial government finds no difficulty in granting the desired privilege for a telegraph line by way of the Aleutian islands to the mouth of the Amoor, requesting only to be positively informed, in advance, of the length of time necessary to construct the line, the term for which the exclusive privilege would be required, and the conditions of transmitting despatches over the connecting Russian lines. He further states, that if the route via Behring’s straits is prepared, while no difficulty is foreseen by the government in granting the privilege demanded, yet, on account of the wild and unexplored character of the territory to be traversed, it would be advisable first to ascertain the practicability of successfully constructing and operating the line. He concludes by saying, “At all events, our government will be ready to co-operate with you as far as possible in carrying out your enterprise.”
This favorable reply, so promptly given, justifies me in anticipating the concurrence of the imperial government in Mr. Collins’s proposal. As soon as he has completed his reply to General Melnikoff’s communication, he will forward to you a full report of the transactions.[Page 851]
I shall omit no opportunity of rendering him assistance, for I regard the proposed telegraphic connexion in the light of national rather than individual interests.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.