The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 375
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Book Reviews 375
papers, and the like left by the key figures in the telegraph's
history. The author has compiled the facts; and his generaliza-
tions and interpretations, being held to a minimum, never bur-
den the reader yet serve throughout to complete the understand-
ing and to add interest and continuity.
The author's story of the earliest beginnings of the telegraph
and of the struggle to invent it, and the sketch of the life of
Samuel F. B. Morse are all brief, yet complete and satisfying.
He traces the era of early optimism and methodless enthusiasm
during which the country was webbed with a crude network of
wires, and during which promoters, with dreams of fortunes to
be had, brought about chaos. During this period greedy pro-
moters organized and constructed lines with reckless abandon.
The result was fierce rivalry, litigation, and chaos, and through-
out the era each struggle ended in an irresistible movement
toward consolidation. Interests formed alliances, and fought for
the control of patents and for the control of rights. Bad manage-
ment, ruthless competition, and litigation soon brought failure
A new era opened, and gradually a degree of cooperation was
achieved. By 1857 six powerful companies virtually controlled
the industry, but their "Six Nations Alliance," formed to obtain
sovereignty in each of their particular geographic areas, failed to
solve the industry's problems. Each of the companies remained
suspicious of its associates, and each welcomed a failure of an
associate as an opportunity to buy the stock of a bankrupt rival.
The Civil War brought great changes and afforded the exact
opportunity for the Western Union to triumph over its nearest
rival, the American Telegraph Company. Thereafter, consolida-
tion was rapid, and in 1866 the Western Union became the coun-
try's first industrial monopoly. It provided a pattern which was
to be followed during the next fifty years by so many industries
The economist and the student of business organization and
of industrial finance will find the book a very valuable addition
to the literature of their fields. For those who study the role of
government in economic life there is the story of how Congress
failed to accept the opportunity to make the telegraph a part of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/384/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.