Mr. Patenôtre to Mr. Sherman.


Mr. Secretary of State: The French Telegraph Cable Company (Compagnie Française des Câbles Télégraphiques) finds it necessary to add a supplementary cable to that which it already has between Brest and Cape Cod. It consequently requests me to transmit, in its name, the inclosed application to the Federal Government, with a view to obtaining the various facilities for the landing of this second cable that were granted in 1879 to the French Paris and New York Telegraph Company (Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New-York), whose rights of ownership were transferred to it in 1895 by an authentic instrument of conveyance, in due form.

This submarine line, which was established eighteen years ago, has been worked since that time in pursuance of an authorization granted by the President of the United States to the original concessionnaires November 10, 1879. The inclosed application reproduces in detail the terms on which this permission to land was then granted by the Federal Government, which remitted the custom-house formalities in the case of the vessel which carried the cable and the material, and likewise certain duties in the ports of the State of Massachusetts.

The only cable which has hitherto been used by the French Telegraph Cable Company has now become very defective, in consequence of long usage. The frequent breaks which it has suffered have occasioned various interruptions of its service, to wit, ten months in 1895, eight months in 189b, and two months and nine days early in the present year. It is therefore a matter of great importance to remedy the insufficiency of the first cable by the establishment of a second.

The two American submarine lines which connect the United States with France have two cables each. The companies owning those lines have received from the French telegraph department all desirable facilities for the establishment and management of these double lines. In view of this reciprocity, the Government of the Republic feels confident that the Federal Government will be pleased to comply with the request of the French company in a manner that will enable it speedily to secure the regular transmission of its telegraphic communications in such a way as will be equally advantageous to our two countries.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,

[Inclosure 1.]

Mr. Turrienne to Mr. Sherman.

Mr. Secretary: The French Telegraph Cable Company, whose representative in the United States I am, being obliged to remedy, by the laying of a second submarine cable, the insufficiency of the only cable [Page 159] which for eighteen years has connected Brest, France, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the present condition of which is such as to endanger the safety of its telegraphic communication with America, has instructed me to submit to you the following application, which, for greater clearness, I will preface by a few explanatory details:

The cable from Brest to Cape Cod which we now use belonged originally to the French, Paris and New York Telegraph Company. It was laid in 1879, in pursuance of authority granted by the President of the United States. The application to this effect was drawn up on the 24th of October, 1879, by M. de Chauvin, the said company’s agent at New York, and was transmitted to the Hon. William M. Evarts, Secretary of State of the United States, by Mr. Outrey, then minister of France at Washington. In that document, a copy of which you will find herewith, the company requested permission to “lay, land, and use its cable or cables,” and also to land its material (in case of bad weather or if its vessel arrived on Sunday) without the ordinary customs formalities; finally it requested the remission of the dues payable by the vessel having the cable on board if it was obliged to enter any port of the United States on the coast of Massachusetts.

These various requests were complied with on certain conditions, which were accepted by the French, Paris and New York Telegraph Company. These conditions are enumerated in a memorandum of the Federal Government bearing date of October 27, 1879, which is likewise inclosed with this application, together with a copy of a subsequent letter, dated November 10, 1879, whereby the Hon. Mr. Evarts officially informed Mr. Outrey of this decision.

The cable between Brest and Cape Cod was used by the French, Paris and New York Telegraph Company until January 1, 1895, when it became the property of the French Telegraph Cable Company. An authentic copy of the instrument whereby this transfer was made, certified by the United States consul-general at Paris, was filed at the embassy of France at Washington and at the consulate-general of France in New York.

As I stated at the beginning of this communication, the cable in question has, owing to long usage, suffered injuries which render it very defective. Long interruptions of telegraphic communication have been the result, especially during the years 1895 and 1896 and early in 1897. These interruptions, which lasted six months in 1895, eight months in 1896, and two months and nine days in 1897, have entailed not only a loss of business, which has been detrimental to the company, but also considerable expense for repairs. The establishment of a second cable is consequently a matter of urgent necessity. The French Telegraph Gable Company, having acquired the rights of the French, Paris and New York Telegraph Company, now has the honor to solicit for the landing of its second submarine cable the facilities and exemptions from customhouse requirements that were granted in 1879 to the original concessionaires. To this effect it is prepared to renew the engagement with the Federal Government entered into by the company, whose place it has taken, and to submit to the various requirements stated in the memorandum of October 27, 1879, to which reference has been made above.

The steamer having the cable on board will, in all probability, be able to land its material at Cape Cod early in June. The company which I represent would be very grateful to the Federal Government if it would kindly notify the customs a thorities of Massachusetts in [Page 160] due time and send them the necessary instructions, to the end that the landing in question may take place just as it did in 1879.

In accordance with the mode of procedure observed at that time, I have the honor to transmit this application to you through the representative of the French Republic at Washington.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,

A. T. Turrienne,
Representative of the French Telegraph Cable Company in America.
[Inclosure 2.]

Memorandum of conditions required by the Government of the United States.

  • First. That the company receive no exclusive concession from the Government of France which would exclude any other line which might he formed in the United States from a like privilege of landing on the shores of France and connecting with the inland telegraphic system of that country.
  • Second. That the company shall not consolidate or amalgamate with any other line or combine therewith for the purpose of regulating rates.
  • Third. That it shall give precedence in the transmission of official messages to the Government of the United States and France.
  • Fourth. That the charges to this Government shall be at the rate of those to the Government of France and the general charges shall be reasonable.
  • Fifth. That the Government of the United States shall be entitled to the same or similar privileges as may by law, regulation, or agreement be granted to the French Government.
  • Sixth. That a citizen of the United States shall stand on the same footing as regards privileges with the citizens of France.
  • Seventh. That messages shall have precedence in the following order: (A) Government messages; (B) telegraphic business; (C) general business.
  • Eighth. That the line shall be kept open for daily business and all messages in the above order be transmitted according to the time of receipt.
[Inclosure 3.]

Mr. Evarts to Mr. Outrey.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 7th instant, transmitting in authentic form the acceptance by the Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New-York, of the conditions deemed essential by this Government to its grant of a permission to that company to land its cable on the shores of the United States. You assure me at the same time on behalf of your Government that the authorization granted in France to the Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris a New-York does not involve any exclusive privileges, and that the conditions imposed on that company by its undertaking with the French Government will be made applicable by that Government to any other company, whether French or foreign and recognized as solvent, which shall apply for the privilege, for the right of landing.

I have without delay brought the subject, together with the information conveyed by your note, to the attention of the President, and he authorizes me to say that, in view of the assurances thus received from the French Government, that reciprocal privileges of landing will be granted by France to any company which may be formed by citizens of the United States upon the same terms that these privileges are granted [Page 161] to the present or any future company of French citizens that may apply for such landing privileges, and having also received the acceptance by the directors of the Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris a New-York of the conditions prescribed by this Government, the executive permission of the Government of the United States will be granted to that company to land its cable at Cape Cod, in the State of Massachusetts.

It is proper for me to add, however, that this executive permission is to be accepted and understood by the company as being subject to any future action of Congress in relation to the whole subject of submarine telegraphy, as explained in my note to you of the 27th ultimo.

In compliance with the suggestion of your note of the 24th of October, I will take pleasure in requesting the Secretary of the Treasury to give such orders to the local customs officers at Boston as will permit the landing of the cable in advance of the regular entry of the Faraday, in case that vessel should arrive off the coast at night or on Sunday or upon the approach of storm, circumstances in which delay might be attended with danger to the success of the enterprise.

Accept, etc.,

William M. Evarts.
[Inclosure 4.]

Mr. Von Chauvin to Mr. Evarts.

Sir: The French Paris and New York Telegraph Company, whose representative in America I have the honor to be, was organized early this year under the French laws.

The capital of the company is 52,000,000 francs, 42,000,000 of which form its capital in shares. These shares have been issued, have all been subscribed for, and the fourth and last payment will be due January 1, 1880.

The 10,000,000 supplementary francs are, according to the present plan, to be obtained by means of bonds as soon as possible, so as to permit the company to lay another cable during the summer of the coming year.

The lines of the company, when finished, will comprise trans-Atlantic cables as follows: From Brest to St. Pierre; from England to St. Pierre; from Brest to England; from St. Pierre to Cape Cod; from St. Pierre to Cape Breton. An overland line from Cape Cod to New York.

This latter line was built for the company which I represent by the American Union Telegraph Company of New York. The same company, has, moreover, purchased the land at Cape Cod which is necessary for the landing of our cable. A contract has been concluded between the American Union and my company for the exclusive exchange of telegraphic correspondence.

The work of making and laying our cables has been intrusted to Messrs. Siemens Brothers, of London, England.

My company has secured from the French Government a concession for landing and working its cables, and a copy of said concession and other official documents relative to the organization of my company has already been transmitted to your Department.

[Page 162]

I, consequently, have the honor, in the name of my company, to solicit the permission of your Government to the end that it may be authorized to lay, land, and work, as a foreign company, its cable or cables on the coasts of the United States, the point at which the company proposes to land its cable being Cape Cod, in the State of Massachusetts.

In case my request is favorably received by your Government, I will add an additional respectful request, viz, that permission may be granted to the vessel or vessels charged with the laying of the cable to land their cargo before the regular custom-house formalities have been complied with, in case these vessels arrive on Sunday, or just before a storm, in order that a delay may thus be avoided which might prove disastrous to our enterprise.

A similar favor has been granted to the direct cable company, and I have the honor herewith to enclose a copy of the letter containing the instructions given under those circumstances.

I further take the liberty to request that the Department of State will kindly remit, as was done for the direct cable company, all charges that would otherwise be payable by the steamer having the cables on board, if that vessel should be obliged to enter any United States port on the coast of Massachusetts.

In case of a favorable decision by your Government, my company is prepared to finish, without delay, a complete line of telegraphic communication between Europe and America, the steamer Faraday being now at St. Pierre, awaiting the necessary instructions for this purpose.

I have the honor, etc.,

G. Von Chauvin,
Representative in America and Chief Engineer of the French Paris and New York Telegraph Company.