[D8805AGF], Letter from Thomas Alva Edison to Edward Hibberd Johnson, September 4th, 1888


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[D8805AGF], Letter from Thomas Alva Edison to Edward Hibberd Johnson, September 4th, 1888

Editor's Notes

[11 pg TAE autograph draft] "Phonograph Co formed- ### 10,000 paid. Edison spends the whole and 15,000 more instruments not a commercial success. Edison to receive a royalty never need a cent, mutual release made, signed by Johnson Painter Cheever + others releasing off hands mutually- Co organization dropped, Johnson did considerable work on phonograph to make it a success, both time + what little money he had in those days. Total result loss of time + money by Edison Joshnson + all hands except Painter-A Dead Duck- Appearance of graphophone Edison anxious to bring out a commercial phone having now experience & facilities as well as money applies to Johnson to get old phonograph people together to rejuvinate old phonograph CO. Johnson's reply that he would do so, a wait of one month no answer from Johnson, fresh application from Tomlinson who had all the data of old Co - to Johnson-Letter from Johnson saying he hadn't time to attend to it + to advising Edison go ahead get up his Co-application to Painter made, Letter of Painter advsing us to wait-Edison having no confidence in Painter don't wait-Edison forms Co-assigns all his rights to said Co, without prejudice to old Company. Edison offers old Co. stockholders one third neew Co. for a small assessment to carrying on experiments, failure of all to pay a cent, Edison goes ahead + puts in his own money. Edison knows that Johnson had only 1200 shares and in any division would get little so in addition to the 1/3 reserved to old Co. Edison's puts Johnson will fare as well as Batchelor-phonograph becomes a success, fight between Cheever + Painter for control + rejuvination of old Co-then struggle for control-Edison Invests 75,000 in factory 67000 experiments to start the business-offer made Edison to sell his interest, Edison sells reserves all the boys portion, + not withstanding a treatment on the part of Painters most outrageous. Edison still takes care of the old stockholders by dividing a portion of the sale, more than what I orginially set apart to them - Painters effort to control old Co so as to Blackmail me, assisted by my friend Bergmann-Johnson states to Board of directions of Light Co that Edison had sold him out, statement of Johnson to parties who revealed to newspaper men that T Edison had sold his property-Interview with Tate, great trouble of Lippencott + others to suppress statement statement of all who interviewed Johnson on subject was that trouble seems to be jealousy of Gilliland--### I want to call your attention in respect to Gilliland and also in respect to selling your property-That if instead of T being the guilty party that it is yourself and I will recite the case, Edison's orginally intention was to supply power by motions on the light circuits, tried a great number of experiments also on transmission of power also on an Electric RR-built an ERR spent $40,000 of his own money took out of 40 patents etc--Result, Johnson becomes president of Elec RR of US-organizes a personal Co brings in a man who was universally objectionable to all-goes into the the ERR by and also right into the motor biz for Edison circuits, has issued to himself a large amount of stock for patents goes ahead finds that patents were very little use abondons the principal devices + practically uses Edison Dynamos in a different shape + calls them Sprague Motors, Edison never even receives the courtesey of a present of stock-In this case I had $40,000 invested which by your action is rendered value begs and you never even suggested or probably thought of taking care of me-If this is not selling me out + bringing new [?] man very objectionable than I am very wrong-as for throwing a sop to Cerebus in re the manufacturing at 15pct profit, I want to say that this profit is less than they can be done for us any other shop-- ### All these things have so disappointed me and surprised me so that I now learn that human nature is just as Rauchefocaned [?] stated it-my plan of dividing up or the anti-gould plan is a dam-d failure + this well explain why young men after reaching 40 or 45 change somewhat in nature experience has caused me to change hereafter I am going to be a hog myself and look out for myself--you state that I stab you in the back-isn't you that stabs me in the back by statements you have made-I suppose you have referred to my statements to Villard in Re Sprague Co-I said nothing to Mr. Villard but what Ts strictly business. I as well as all the rest of the boys do not want the Sprague Co taken in the new deal except on an actual cash value if assests=your friend Burgmann as all the boys will tell you was the loudest in protesting Wednesday last you have no right to risk your whole in a big kite flying game and because we do not feel like assisting you at our expense in pulling it through acuse me of stabbing you, this whole Sprague business has been a gulling thorn among all the boys and as I told you in Tomlinson office 2yrs ago wanted ultimately break up the old associations which it effectually has done."








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