No. 106.
Mr. Brulatour to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 585.]

Sir: With reference to the authorization asked for by the American Commercial Gable Company to land its cable upon the shores of France, * * * I herewith inclose a translation of M. Ferry’s communication, and a copy of my acknowledgment of the same.

I have, &c.,

[Page 165]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 585.—Translation.]

M. Ferry to Mr. Morton.

Sir: I have received the two letters, of the 17th and 24th of last month, that Mr. Brulatour has had the goodness to address to me with reference to the concession of a submarine telegraphic line to the Commercial Cable Company, represented by Messrs. Bennett and Mackay.

To the second of these communications was annexed the copy of a telegram from the Secretary of State, who insists upon the suppression in the contract signed by that company with the French administration of certain conditions that the Washington Cabinet consider as being at variance with the treatment of reciprocity agreed to between the two Governments in 1879 upon the establishment of the direct line-constructed by the French Company Paris–New York.

In response to the communication that I addressed to to the minister of posts and telegraphs on the subject, he observes that it is proper to state precisely under what conditions the Government of the Union granted in 1879, upon the application of the French Government, the concession of a cable to be landed in the United States.

With this object, Mr. Cochery sets forth, in the first place, that the cable conceded in 1879 was a direct cable; he recalls, in the second place, the exact terms of the correspondence exchanged between the minister of the Republic at Washington with reference to the authorization to land granted to the French company; it results therefrom, on the one hand, that M. Outrey gave to the Federal Cabinet “the assurance that the French Government would make no difficulty in according, in case of need, to American subjects, the same privileges as to its own fellow-countrymen;” on the other hand, that the Government of the Union would grant to the French company the right to land, upon the sole condition that this company would comply with the general laws that Congress might be called upon to enact with reference to submarine cables. The communication of the Department of State, which notified the said authorization, contains, in effect, the following reservation: “It should be well understood by the company that the authorization that it receives is subservient to all the measures that Congress may take in the future with reference to submarine telegraphs.”

Mr. Cochery is of opinion that there is reason to notice in these communications that the authorization given by the Government of the United States was not pure and simple, but that it was subordinate to the measures that your Government might subsequently take with reference to submarine cables, and that the only demand to the Government of the Republic, with a view of reciprocity, was to concede to American citizens the same privilege as to French citizens.

As far as concerns reciprocity, it has already been stated in the note from Mr. Cochery, which I had the honor to bring to your knowledge on the 13th of last month, that the cable of the Company “Paris-New York” was a direct cable between France and America, while the cable of the “Commercial Company” is a cable between France and Ireland which, from this latter country, pursues its course to the United States. It does not appear necessary to insist in order to show the difference which exists between these two concessions.

It may not, however, be useless to recall that at the time of the concession granted to M. Pouyer Quertier, the French Government held essentially that the cable should be direct and should not make use of the territory of any foreign nation before arriving in America. The relay established at St. Pierre by the French company in nowise infringes this condition, since the island of St. Pierre is a French possession, and that to establish the Pouyer Quertier cable by means of this intermediary point it was only necessary to have recourse to the authorization of France and the United States.

It is not the same for the Mackay-Bennett cable, as apart from the consent of the two states in question the grantees will be obliged to obtain the consent of England for the landing in Ireland. And even supposing that a direct communication is established between Havre and the United States, it can only be worked with the authorization of the English Government which, according to the information transmitted “to me by Mr. Cochery, would impose very restrictive conditions, especially the limitation of the authorization of landing to the year 1889. Under these conditions the French administration was justified in refusing Messrs. Bennett and Mackay the right of landing their cable, without, in reality, affecting the promise of reciprocity agreed to in 1879 by the two Governments; this right, however, which, up to the present time, had not been granted, was conceded to them under certain conditions specified in this stipulation.

As you are aware, Messrs. Mackay and Bennett accepted these conditions, and, on date of the 13th of March last, you were good enough to communicate to me the thanks of the Government of the United States.

To the preceding observation Mr. Cochery adds that he is ignorant of what has taken place since the above obtainment, but the grantees have allowed the periods [Page 166] prescribed by the stipulations to expire without fulfilling the formalities intended to make the position regular, and that, in fact, they have given to the administration the right of refusing them a new concession.

The minister of posts and telegraphs adds that this is certainly the jurisprudence that his department would apply to French subjects.

Nevertheless, in consideration of the support given by the legation of the United States to the application of Messrs. Mackay and Bennett, the French administration has not set it aside, and has even consented to substitute a simple clause of common right, that of denunciation of the contract a year in advance to the right of repurchase that the original contract reserved to the Government of the Republic.

The conditions inserted in the contract are, besides, those that the administration would impose upon every Frenchman who might apply for a similar concession to land.

Upon the whole, Messrs. Mackay and Bennett are not placed in the same conditions as M. Pouyer Quertier, who had applied to the Government of the United States to land a direct cable.

Besides, the conditions of the concession made to the Commercial Cable Company are those that the French administration would impose upon their fellow-countrymen.

Finally, it must be observed that these conditions have been discussed by the administration of posts and telegraphs and M. le Comte Dillon, representative of Messrs. Mackay and Bennett; that the clauses have been accepted by him, and that the clauses of the contract, for the most part, were spontaneously proposed by the grantees.

In this state of things, which I shall be obliged to you to expose to your Government, you will acknowledge, sir, I have no doubt, that the contract in question in nowise infringes the engagements agreed upon in 1879 by the Government of the Republic.

Receive, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 585.]

Mr. Brulatour to M. Jules Ferry.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 8th instant, in relation to the request of my Government for reciprocal treatment when an American transatlantic cable company seeks the privilege of landing its cables upon the shores of France.

Your excellency states substantially that the treatment of reciprocity is not refused to the Commercial Cable Company, in whose behalf I have asked for the right of landing in France, but that this company, having only an indirect communication with the United States, was not entitled to the same terms granted to the French company, whose lines are direct; that the agreement of 1879 between France and the United States meant equal treatment of Americans and Frenchmen desiring to establish telegraphic communication across the ocean, and that the conditions imposed upon the Commercial Cable Company are exactly those which the French Government impose upon any French company situated in the same manner and making the same application.

I shall lose no time in making known this reply to my Government, but in awaiting its answer I may be permitted one remark.

Your excellency states that the Commercial Cable Company had accepted the condition, objected to now, affixed to the concession of the privilege of landing, when, by instruction of my Government, Mr. Morton thanked you for having made it. I must say here that Mr. Frelinghuysen became aware of the concession only through your communication of February, 1884 (no date), which did not mention “that the privilege thus granted was liable to be suppressed at any time, upon a year’s notice.” I must also repeat that the objectections of my Government have not in view the particular interests of the Commercial Cable Company, but a question of principle involving the interests of every concession.

I avail, &c.,