[D8831ABE], Letter from William Preston Hix to Frank Seymour Hastings, June 1st, 1888


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[D8831ABE], Letter from William Preston Hix to Frank Seymour Hastings, June 1st, 1888

Editor's Notes

[5 typed pgs from St. Louis Re: proposal from Westinghouse co. to combine] "I wrote you a hasty note yesterday. I will now give you a synopis of a four hours session of Patleoni & Treadway (Westinghouse) and Writaker, Richardson and myself (Edison). Patleoni and his friend wants us to take up their [unclear] as they say if we unite we can form a company, and if we have to fight each other, neither will succeed. They make the following proposition: ### Form a Westinghouse Company of any million. The Westinghouse Co. will put in a plant actually costing $700,000. The $300,000 left is to be divided among the promoters, of which amount I am to have $159,000. The Westinghouse will get the city franchises, build the plant, run it thirty days, and turn it over to the local company. ### They give ample guarantees as to the satisfaction of the plant and as to suits (see form of license enclosed), and Westinghouse will give a personal guarantee of one million dollars. He asked me to state my objections to the Westinghouse system, and he would prove them false. I stated first that I could not find anywhere, that they were making any dividends. He told how cheap the light could be made, &c., but brought no proof except his assertion. I told him he had not proved his case. Then I spoke of the danger, and he started out by saying 1,000 bolts would not kill. I stopped him, and told him he need not go any further; that the statement was false. He then said he could produce 30 men who had received the current through them, and they were living. I told him if he produced a thousand, it would not prove that the entire current had gone through them, and if 500 bolts of any kind of a current went through a man, he would not live, in my opinion, and I had not consulted electricians and physicians outside of the Edison Co. about the matter; and besides, I had entire faith in any statement Mr. Edison would make to me, and he had stated 1,000 bolts of any current would kill, and the alternating was worse than the continuous. In fact, I made several points which he did not answer. He is very smart and slippery, and it is hard to pin him down to an exact and positive answer. He will dodge the question in such a plausible way that nine men out of ten would be taken in." COPIES. "Patleoni says that the Chicago Edison Company will increase with Westinghouse system, and Robert Lincoln is in the Westinghouse Co. Is this so? Answer. W. Preston Hix. ### [New Page] "We are not going to increase with Westinghouse. Edison plant will earn twice as such in large city. Lincoln our director; gone to Europe, so can't ask him about any other interest." D.H. Louderback " I quietly passed this around. Patleoni did not see it. He made much over the patent decision, and read the Electrical World of May 26th. The Scientific American, and several other papers, and said that Johnson letter which he read was simply a statement of the Edison, and it wasn't possible that all these papers could be mistaken, and here was several disinterested witnesses against one interested witness (which was the only good point he made). ### Then he said he would state some facts about the Chicago Edison Co., if I would promise to consider it confidential, and promise not to tell Johnson, or the Edison Company. I replied he must have a fine opinion of my honesty as a man, to occupy a confidential position in the Edison Co., and not to keep them posted as to their interest, and that I would not make any such promise. He then asked me if I would go out and let him tell the others. I went out. I find from Whitaker that he told them there was a secret arrangement between Lincoln and Doane, of Chicago, to put in a Westinghouse plant. The telegram shown previously had killed the statement without his knowing it. ### After the meeting he took me off and said: "Why don't you come in the Westinghouse Co.? We want you very bad and showed a complimentary letter from Humbird inviting me to Pittsburg, and to let him know by telegram when I would be there. He wound up saying: "You want to make money, and we can show you how you can make twice as much with us, and we are going to have you." I learn from Whitaker, that after I left the room he said to them: 'Mr. Hix will be with us, because we intend to put him where he can make money. The Edison Co. does not appreciate what he has done for them. He made the largest Exposition contracts and Isolated contract for them, and he has organized their largest and best stock companies, and Humbird says he hasn't made any money, and they have treated him badly. Now, we know his contract expires July 1st, and we will have him, and we want him and you gentlemen to come in with us in St. Louis.' ### The Fort Wayne Janney agent is coming to see me to-day. They also want me to come with them, as they have the same system as Westinghouse. I propose to post the Janney man, and have these fellows fight each other, while I try to sell stock. ### Please excuse this long letter, but I thought it would interest you to know just what they are saying. ### If you can send me any information outside of our Edison source showing that their underground currents are a failure, especially in Springfiled, Mass, do so. I think Vail has something." Yours truly, W. Preston Hix [Marginalia: "Patterson + Gates were in today + had a talk with Whitaker. I have not seen Whitaker since, but his client says he heard Patterson's pay. 'Hix says he has received two monthly dividends from St. Paul. I am a stockholder and I have not received any.' Whitaker replied 'if Hix told you that it is so, because I do not think he would [unclear] for the whole Edison Co.' and Gates said that is true Mr. Hix always tells the [unclear] so much for my enemies." WPH]




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