No. 101.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Morton.


Mr. Frelinghuysen telegraphs Mr. Morton that the United States granted to the French cable company in 1879, at the express request of the French Government through its minister at Washington, the [Page 156] privilege of landing their cable on the shores of this country. In making this agreement it was expressly stated and made a condition to the concession, that should permission be granted to the company to land its cable in the United States it will be upon the understanding that the reciprocal right of American citizens to similar concessions from the Government of France in laying and operating transmarine cables and connecting them with inland lines in that country should be granted upon suitable application to the French Government, and that the continuance of the privilege might depend upon this reciprocity being recognized by France (see Secretary of State to French minister, October 27, 1879, and September 10 and 22, 1875). Moreover, the condition signed by the company in accepting the grant stated that the company received no exclusive concession from France which would exclude any other line which might thereafter be formed in the United States, from obtaining a like privilege to land on the French coast and connect with the internal telegraphic system of that country.

France now denies to the originators of an American cable company the right to land on the French coast because it touches the shore of Ireland and is therefore not direct from France. The French cable touches at St. Pierre, and it is probable that a direct line from the United States to France touching at no intermediate point is impracticable. As the United States has no colonial or outlying possessions, American cables must necessarily touch at some foreign intermediate point. The President does not doubt that France will respect the position taken by the United States as stated above and which was agreed to by the French Government and the French cable company. The interpretation which France now desires to give to the first condition destroys the spirit of the agreement. The President is of opinion that the proposed American cable has a right to land on the French coast under the agreement of 1879. Mr. Morton is directed to act on this instruction in such manner as his good judgment suggests.