General Schenck to Mr. Fish.
the United States,
London, July 7, 1873.
(Received July 22.)
Sir: My No. 398, in relation to charges on
telegraphic-cable messages, having been made public through the newspapers
in the United States, has also been copied and attracted attention here. On
its appearance in print, in the correspondence of the London Times, a letter
of complaint was addressed to me by the general manager of the
Anglo-American Telegraph Company in London, to which I replied. I send you
herewith copies of the communication of that company and my answer
You will observe that the Anglo-American Company, instead of meeting and
controverting the statement that there exists some arrangement by which
excessive charges are collected in London for the transmission of
cable-messages over the land-lines in the United States, attempts to make
with me an irrelevant issue in regard to some supposed reduction of prices
paid by the Government. This I do not permit. The system of overcharges
which I brought to your notice is that which relates to exactions made here
for sending intelligence over the wires within the United States to points
south and west of New York.
No response has been made by the cable company to my reply sent to them on
the 30th June.
The Western Union Company, I presume, will put forward some explanation or
denial, now that my letter to you has come out and provoked discussion, but
I trust they will not answer aside from the question which has been fairly
I have, &c.,
[Inclosure 1 in No. 442.]
Mr. Weaver to
Anglo-American Telegraph Company Limited,
26 Old Broad Street, London, E.
C., June 27,
Sir: Referring to your letter addressed to Mr.
Hamilton Fish, upon the subject of this company’s tariff, which appeared
in the Philadelphia correspondence of the Times of yesterday, and in
which you state that the alleged “systematic imposition” has resulted in
a large difference to the Government of the United States during the
past year, I would draw your attention to the fact that, instead of
being overcharged, your Government has only paid half the current rates
of the company for some years past, a concession made by the companies
to the American Government as a pure matter of courtesy, which appears
to me to be somewhat ill-requited by the unwarranted strictures
contained tin your letter.
I am, &c., &c.,
[Inclosure 2 in No. 442.]
General Schenck to
Legation of the United States,
London, June 30,
Sir: I have received your note of the 27th
instant, referring to an official letter of mine of the 30th of April
last, addressed to the Secretary of State of the United States, relating
to the charges made for the transmission of messages by the
Anglo-American Telegraph Company, a copy of which letter has appeared in
the public prints.
You appear to overlook or misunderstand entirely the point of my
communication on the subject, and its object.
I raised no question as to the tariff of prices of your company, whether
excessive or moderate, for sending dispatches by the cable across the
ocean from England to America. My purpose was to attract attention to
the charges, made, as I understand, under some arrangement between your
company and the Western Union Company, for the use of the land-lines of
that company within the United States, to reach points west and south of
New York; and I showed that the exaction of payments made here for that
portion of telegraphic service was double, or more than double as much
as the rates indicated in the tariff of the American company, for the
same service, over the same lines at home. This yon have not denied. I
brought this matter to the notice of my Government, as it was proper I
If I am not mistaken as to the fact, there is no reason for your
characterizing my report as containing “unwarranted strictures.”
Whether, as you state, the Government of the United States “has only paid
half the current rates of the company for some years past,” and whether
that was, as you also inform me, “a concession made as a pure matter of
courtesy,” I do not certainly know. I found your scale of charges when I
came here to represent the United States about the same, I believe, as
it continues to be. Inquiry being made since receiving your letter, I
learn that the reduced rates, of which you speak, relate to some
agreement not to make double charges against either the United States
Government or Her Majesty’s government for dispatches of which any
portion may happen to be transmitted in cipher. But whatever may be the
case in respect of that statement, I do not see how, with justice or
propriety, it should be taken as a consideration for not exposing what
appears to be a wrong, in the correction of which I have shown that the
public and private persons are equally concerned.
I had far other and higher motives for my action, than to assail the
interests of any of the telegraph companies on either side of the
Atlantic; and my communication to my Government having been made public,
it is certainly no “ill requital” for any favor or advantage that you
may be supposed to have conferred, to afford you an opportunity for
abolishing an unjust discrimination against many of those who have to
correspond through the medium of the telegraph.
I am, &c.,