[D8750AAQ], Letter from Edward Hibberd Johnson to Thomas Alva Edison, December 9th, 1887


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[D8750AAQ], Letter from Edward Hibberd Johnson to Thomas Alva Edison, December 9th, 1887

Editor's Notes

"In re. Phonograph matters. I have yours concerning U.H.P. I do not propose to take up cudgals for Painter But I do think I am in duty bound to try and show you the other side of a case which so greatly affects your reputation for fairness I don't think there is any question of dishonesty in the matter -- that word was imported into it by implication only and that by Mr Hubbard who employed it as negatively applied to you -- Nor do I think that you are quite fair in asserting without ample ground that U.H. has treated you in an outrageous manner But aside from these personal matters let us look squarely at the issues between you -- You say you have investigated the subject thoroughly and have arrived at two conclusions ## 1st there is no Patent. ## 2nd the Old Co has no legal existence therefore you conclude that as you are not legally prevented from doing so you can do as you please with the property. That is to say you consider you are under no necessity for considering any other than your legal obligations -- Is this true! You say in effect. Not quite: there are certain people in the Old Concern who are my personal friends and who have stood by the Phono. through good & bad repute. To these I will award a measure of the fruit of my new labors -- thus you admit a moral obligation -- Now can you not conceive that the othe side might entertain a higher valuation of this moral obligation Even to the external in fact of expecting you to recognize in them an ownership as compels as if the legality was not questioned. Have they in point of fact ever broken the Letter or spirit of their Agreement with You? If not then is it material whether the Patent is valid or the formal organization of the parties with whom you agreed and with whom you have always been in accord -- is or is not an involnerable one? You will probably answer that my premises are wrong that Hubbard is aiding and abetting a conspiracy to defraud You -- To this there are two answers. ## 1st Hubbard is not the Phono Co nor does He control it. ## 2nd The record shows Hubbard in constant correspondence with the officers of the Phono Co. as an applicant for a license or other business arrangement. True He was trying to drive a hard trade -- but that is legitimate -- ## You will further say probably that you sought to get the Old Co to take some action & finding they didn't do it you determined to do so yourself independent of them. This would seem to be reasonable -- but did you ever see one of them in person Or communicate with them directly Or in any manner ascertain with any degree of positiveness that they were not acting? I am afraid not. Else you would have learned that the delay was brought about mainly by virtue of UHP's determination not to have a meeting until we could come to it with a voting strength that would enalbe us to do whatever you wished -- To carry Our point as against the Opposition -- if any should show itself-- In fact UH. Did get the absolute control & has it today -- You surely don’t mean to say that You could not expect satisfactory terms from the board as it was & is constituted: UH.P. EH.J. JCR & Yourself & Batchelor -- ## This course would have saved all friction and I am of the opinion that you would -- as you say -- have received more than you have awarded to yourself in your own arbitrary allottment -- but there would have been this important difference ## The Personel of the Old Co would not have been set aside, as if it were of no consequence and new people injected to still further emphasize the fact that Old Co would not thereby be made the recipients of your bounty as they now are are. Nor would you appear as the recipient of any favors at their hands. You hade new & valuable improvements which entitled you to a proper & even extra liberal new deal -- the Public could not look upon such acknowledgement as a gratuity whereas that is the actual appearance of your present plan. ## You will observe therefore that all this friction is the result of injured pride and not $ & its at all You are not so far lifted above the obligations of ordinary men to respect these factors as to be able to ignore them with impunity and knowing this as I do, I say here what no money consideration could induce me to say -- & I say it at a time when I can less afford to than at any other period of our always pleasant association And it is needless to say -- that I say it for a purpose -- viz. to induce you to recognize the Error Committed in so ignominiously setting aside those who have had Pride Hope & Faith locked up in the Phonograph for the past 10 years And to conset to meeting them here at an early date to ascertain if some amicable adjustment may not be had"




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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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