Mr. Patenôtre to
of the French Republic in the United States,
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.,
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
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
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
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.
Memorandum of conditions required by the
Government of the United States.
Washington, D. C.
October 27, 1879
- 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
- Third. That it shall give precedence in the transmission of
official messages to the Government of the United States and
- 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
- Sixth. That a citizen of the United States shall stand on the
same footing as regards privileges with the citizens of
- Seventh. That messages shall have precedence in the following
order: (A) Government messages; (B) telegraphic business; (C)
- 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.
Mr. Evarts to
Department of State,
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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