Certainly, even in an age of exciting marvels,|
the electric telegraph is an invention to be wondered at.
|These two items, above and below, refer to the letters and newspapers carried on the Cunard steamer Europa, which departed Liverpool on Saturday, December 16, 1848, and arrived in Halifax on Friday morning, December 29, 1848. The item above tells us Europa's newspapers reached Saint John about noon on Wednesday, January 3, 1849. The item below tells us Europa's newspapers reached Fredericton Thursday afternoon, January 4, 1849. When these newspapers arrived in Fredericton, the news in them was at least 19 days old and most of it was a couple of days older, but this was the latest European news then available.|
The two terms magnetic telegraph and electric telegraph have|
the same meaning. Both refer to the same communication technology.
In the early days, when this revolutionary telegraph technology was new,
few people knew anything about the mysteries of magnetism and fewer still
had any idea what electricity was or how it worked. The new telegraph
worked partly by electric and partly by magnetic effects, and people were
unsure just what to name it. We now use electric telegraph as the
generic name of this system of communication.
This item was reprinted (below) in the Fredericton|
New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser,
19 January 1849.
This item is a reprint of the item (above) which|
appeared in the Saint John New Brunswick Courier,
13 January 1849.
The Mail which departed Liverpool, England,
on Saturday, December 30, 1848, reached
Fredericton on Saturday, January 13, 1849.
This item refers to the letters that arrived in Halifax on the|
Cunard steamship America on Wednesday, January 10th,
and then were forwarded from Halifax to Levis, Quebec.
The trip from Halifax to Levis took four days and one hour.
From 1850 to 1858, the New York and Liverpool United States Mail Steamship|
Company, better known as the Collins line, was a serious competitor to Cunard on
the North Atlantic. Collins' ships were newer, faster, and larger than Cunard's ships,
and posed a serious threat to Cunard's future. The story of Edward Knight Collins,
and his shipping operations, is one of the more gripping tales of the North Atlantic's
long, dramatic, and often tragic history.
In this item, "these provinces" means New Brunswick and Nova Scotia;|
"Canada" means the territory which now forms Quebec and Ontario.
In these items, "Granville Point" means the hamlet now known|
as Victoria Beach, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.
ICS comment (written 6 June 1999):|
The heading "English Mail, 24th February" refers to the date
when Cunard's Royal Mail Steamship departed Liverpool.
Always, immediately before departure from England, copies
of the latest available newspapers were brought on board the
ship, to ensure that the news delivered to North America
would be the most recent that could be obtained. In this case,
"the latest English papers" means the English and European
news available in Saint John on 9th March 1849 was at least
13 days old, and most of it was 14 or 15 days old. This item does
not name "the gentlemen who conducted the express arrangements"
but there is little doubt this was arranged by Daniel H. Craig.
ICS comment (written 6 July 1999):
"Mr. J. T. Smith, of Boston" is the Mr. John T. Smith to whom D.H. Craig addressed a letter, dated at Halifax, Dec. 14, 1849. Craig's letter begins:
Mr. John T. Smith, Esq.:
"Certain of your friends in Boston, as I have reason to know, are not only exerting themselves to benefit you, but they are doing so under the apprehension, apparently, that it is absolutely necessary that I should be sacrificed, and fairly hooted from the field to make room for you. And, to effect their purposes, they have resorted, among other expedients, to a system of the most outrageous, mean, and contemptible falsehoods — falsehoods so base that a common highwayman or the midnight assassin would blush to be the author of — to parties here, who are presumed to occupy positions that enable them to exert a controlling influence to my disadvantage..."
The influential "parties here" were the Commissioners of the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph. A year later, Craig wrote: "After mature reflection, I see very little in the spirit of the letter that I would wish to amend."There were two Smiths (I have found no indication they were related) involved in the management of the telegraph lines between Boston and Halifax; one was John T. Smith and the other was the notorious Mr. Francis Ormand Jonathan Smith of Boston and Portland, Maine, of whom Alexander Jones wrote the following:
The first telegraph line between New York and Boston was opened in 1846, under the management of F.O.J. Smith, with whom some of the Boston newspapers became offended at his management, and nicknamed him "Fog Smith," by which he became well known. He had purchased one fourth interest in Morse's patent while a member of Congress, between the years of 1838 and 1844. He was at one period Chairman of the Committee of Commerce, which reported the appropriation bill of $30,000 in favor of Morse, and which ultimately passed. He built the line in conjunction with a company of subscribers, and in virtue of a contract with Kendall, Morse, and Vail, co-proprietors of the patent. Smith finally purchased a sufficient number of shares to give him a majority of the stock. He afterwards managed the line as he pleased, regardless of the views or wishes of many leading newspapers, with whom he became involved in bitter quarrels, and which resulted in the erection and encouragement of opposition telegraph lines under House's and Bain's patents, from New York to Boston, and of another line from Boston to Portland, Maine, where Bain's line joined on to the line between Portland and Saint John. From Saint John, another line was continued by a provincial company to Halifax, and by which the new York Associated Press have received news brought by steamships to the latter town, without using Smith's line. In 1847 Smith built a telegraph line himself from Boston to Portland, and owned it as his exclusive property.
[Excerpted from AP: The Story of News, by Oliver Gramling, 1940]
ICS Comment (written 5 June 1999):
Alexander Bain, now almost completely forgotten, was a telegraph rival of Samuel Morse. Bain's electric telegraph worked very well, by the standards of the late 1840s, and was a serious competitor against Morse in the early days. Some telegraph lines were built under the Morse patent using Morse's equipment, and others were built under the Bain patent using Bain's equipment.
When practical telegraphic communication was solved by Henry, Morse, and others, further advances in various directions were made. Efforts to increase the rapidity in sending messages soon grew into practical success, and in 1848 Bain's Chemical Telegraph was brought out. (U. S. Patents No. 5,957, Dec 5, 1848, and No. 6,328, April 17, 1849.) This employed perforated strips of paper to effect automatic transmission by contact made through the perforations in place of the key, while a chemically prepared paper at the opposite end of the line was discolored by the electrical impulses to form the record. This was the pioneer of the automatic system which by later improvements is able to send over a thousand words a minute...
Source: The Progress of Invention in the 19th Century by Edward W. Byrn, Munn and Co., Publishers, Scientific American Office, New York, 1900
Found on the Internet at
Bain's system was sometimes called Bain's Chemical Telegraph, and other times Bain's Electric Telegraph. Both names refer to the same system for transmitting messages quickly over long distances.
The term "chemical telegraph" referred only to the method of recording the message at the destination, which in Bain's system was done by using the received electric impulses to change the colour of a line drawn by an electrically-controlled stylus on a strip of specially-treated paper.
The term "electric telegraph" referred to the method of transmitting the message from origin to destination, which in Bain's system (as in Morse's system) was done by passing an electric current through an iron wire suspended high overhead on insulators at the top of wooden poles.
The term "chemical telegraph" was essentially a facade to disguise the basic similarity between the two systems. The Bain company chose to use the name "Bain's Chemical Telegraph Company" to make it sound fundamentally different from "Morse's Electric Telegraph Company"; this made it much easier for the courts to rule that Bain's lines did not infringe on Morse's patents.
In 1842, Alexander Bain proposed a facsimile telegraph. Historians normally associate Bain's ideas with the modern day facsimile (fax) machine. However, it is his concept of scanning an image — breaking it up into small parts for transmission — that is at the heart of today's television transmission.
Source: SMPTE: Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, Toronto Section
Found on the Internet at
Online image of a Bain telegram dated Boston, Jan. 1851
"£10,000 have been taken in Canada" means this
amount was raised in Quebec (Lower Canada),
and Ontario (Upper Canada).
"The Company in this City" means the
New Brunswick Electric Telegraph Company.
"Associated Presses" (plural) refers to
the Boston Associated Press and
the New York Associated Press,
which then were separate organizations.
There is a most interesting phrase in this item:
"it would be necessary at all times for the Bay boat to be at her station nine days after each Mail leaves England, where she might have to wait for some days"
This throws light on how the steamship, chartered for the Fundy crossing, was scheduled for Craig's Associated Press express.
It was specified, in Cunard's contract with the British Admiralty, that the Royal Mail Steamships were to depart from Liverpool precisely at noon on Saturday, with serious financial penalties for any delay in departure.
The time taken by Cunard's steamships to cross the North Atlantic from Liverpool to Halifax was usually about nine to twelve days.
America achieved one of the faster trips when it arrived at Halifax at mid-afternoon Monday, June 18th, 1849, in a couple of hours over 9 days from Liverpool — and the AP horse express reached the chartered boat about dawn on Tuesday.
One of the slower trips was made by Canada, which arrived at Halifax late in the evening of Thursday, March 15th, 1849, in 12 days 10 hours from Liverpool — and the AP horse express reached the chartered boat about 8:30am Friday.
Most trips fell between these times, with the longer times mostly attributable to adverse weather conditions, such as sustained headwinds and heavy seas.
For the purpose of scheduling the cross-Fundy Associated Press steamship, an allowance of nine days flat for the trip from Liverpool to Halifax would have allowed for the most optimistic expectation of the fastest possible voyage. Thus it was highly unlikely that any of Cunard's ships could arrive at Halifax earlier than about noon Monday.
When the time is added, for the horse express to get to Granville Point (Victoria Beach) from Halifax — about nine hours or so — one sees that there would be no need for the chartered Bay of Fundy steamer before late afternoon Monday.
In the normal course of operations on the 1849 North Atlantic service, the Associated Press news express could have arrived at Granville Point (Victoria Beach) any time after Monday afternoon, but might arrive there as late as Friday. The chartered boat spent a lot of time waiting – with the expensive contractual requirement that steam had to be "kept up" (the boiler had to be kept hot with steam at full working pressure) at all times, day and night, to enable a quick departure on the trip across Fundy whenever the horse express from Halifax might arrive.
This item refers to the Halifax Morning Chronicle's description of a ceremony held on the Halifax North Common on June 8th, 1849, as part of the official celebration of the Centenary of the founding of Halifax in 1749. At this ceremony the first pole was set in place, for the new Electric Telegraph line between Halifax and Amherst which was to connect with the telegraph line between Amherst and Saint John.
The Halifax Novascotian of 18 June 1849 carried this (reprinted from the previous issue, 13th June): "During the afternoon (of June 8th) the first post [pole] of the Electric Telegraph was erected on the North of the Common, and three cheers vociferously given by the assembled multitude for the success of the Telegraph Company. It is rather a remarkable fact that may be noticed en passant, that it is now within a very few weeks, exactly one hundred years since these remarkable discoveries were made in Electricity that have caused the name of Dr. Benjamin Franklin to be memorable in the history of Science. North America was the scene of these discoveries in 1749."
In the 1840s and 1850s, this new technology was sometimes called "magnetic telegraph" and other times "electric telegraph." These are merely different names for the same thing; in time the term "electric telegraph" became the accepted usage.
|It is believed that "one o'clock on Wednesday" means 1pm.|
|In 1849, Joseph Howe was Deputy Post Master General at Halifax.|
|These two reports make it clear that the last run of the Nova Scotia Pony Express, from Halifax through Kentville to Victoria Beach, was made on October 2nd, 1849, carrying the European News brought by the Royal Mail Steamer Canada, with the British Mail which departed Liverpool on September 22nd. Canada arrived at Halifax on Tuesday morning, October 2nd, and the last express to Victoria Beach departed a few minutes after Canada's arrival.|
This was the first batch of European News to be sent|
for the Associated Press by telegraph from Sackville
to Boston and New York.
The transmission of the second batch of European News for|
the Associated Press from Sackville to Boston and New York
began at one o'clock Wednesday afternoon, October 17th, 1849.
|Specie: coins, money in the form of minted pieces of metal|
The European News brought by the Cambria was carried by|
the last trip of Daniel Craig's Horse Express, operated through
Nova Scotia for the Associated Press of Boston and New York.
This run departed Halifax on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 8th,
galloped through Truro and Amherst, and arrived in Sackville,
New Brunswick, on the morning of Friday, Nov. 9th, 1849.
Joseph Howe, George R. Young, and W. Murdoch were|
Commissioners of the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph.
See Advertisement in the Novascotian, 11 June 1849.
This item conflicts with the previous item dated 29 December. One states|
the English Mail of 15th December was brought by R.M.S. America,
while the other states the same Mail was brought by R.M.S. Cambria.
We hope to sort this out by finding reports in other sources.
The "vexations" endured by the Associated Press management in the early days "were aggravated by dissentions which grew up between the managers of some of the Morse telegraph lines and the press. There were also contentions between the members of the press in Boston and other places, fanned if not engendered by the jealousies of some of the Morse lines, and especially by those under the control of F.O.J. Smith. This gentleman refused to have steamers' news come over his line from Halifax, for the Associated Press, unless they dismissed Mr. Craig, then acting as their Halifax agent. This led to a rupture, by which the press of Boston became divided. The Association retained Mr. Craig, and ran a special locomotive express at an enormous expense with each steamer's news, from Portland to Boston, there being no telegraph between these two points but that owned by Smith. From Boston it came over by the Bain line to New York. The Association also, by its encouragement, caused a company to extend the Bain line from Boston to Portland, where it connected with the lines extending thence to Halifax, and which were beyond the control of Smith.
The war was a very fierce one; many phamphlets appeared on both sides, including one by Mr. Craig in his defence against Smith's charges. The latter left no stone unturned. Among other efforts to thwart the Association, it is said that he endeavored to get control of one of the links on the Halifax line east of Portland. He also appealed to the Provincial Legislature of New Brunswick, and protested against the management of the Halifax line by its superintendent; but all without avail.
His success in putting the newspaper press by the ears was not only less difficult, but more complete. At one time Smith refused to receive and transmit private messages handed in by merchants and others for Halifax, or to let anything come over his line from thence..."
[The quotes are from page 140, Historical Sketch of the Electric Telegraph, by Alexander Jones, 1852, published by George E. Putnam, New York.]
N.B.E.T.Co. was the New Brunswick Electric Telegraph Company,|
which owned and operated the telegraph lines from Calais, Maine,
to Saint John, and from Saint John to the connection with the
Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company at the Nova Scotia border.
This was a substantial reward. At that time, many workingmen
would have received less than £25 for a year's work.
Today, this wording sounds very strange:
"...will be forwarded as usual to any part of the United States;
also to San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton, California."
At the time this newspaper was printed, at the height of the
California Gold Rush, California was not part of the United States.
See San Francisco chronology, 1850-1851
In 1850, Mr. Tabor founded Street's Express, which operated between Fredericton and St. John, New Brunswick. In 1853, John T. Smith took over operation of the express, and offered connecting service to the United States by Favor's Express and Gunnison's Express. J.D. Turner took over Street's Express in 1855. Beginning in 1857, Turner and Gunnison operated offered service to Peticodiac, Sackville, Dorchester, Fredericton and Woodstock, New Brunswick, as well as Annapolis, Windsor, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. This arrangement ended in 1861.
Half an ounce in weight is equivalent to about 14 grams.|
"4½d" means 4½ pence.
(The currency then in use was pounds, shillings, and pence.)