No. 280.
General Schenck to Mr. Fish.

No. 442.]

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 thereto.

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 raised.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 442.]

Mr. Weaver to General Schenck.

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.,

General Manager.
[Page 470]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 442.]

General Schenck to Mr. Weaver.

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 should do.

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.,