[D8933ABL], Telegram from Samuel Insull to Alfred Ord Tate, September 21st, 1889

Item

Abstract

The Anglo-American Telegraph Company Limited####New York####Hotel Victoria London####Lysbert Kapp erba Vinegardhill Wombledon will call on you for appointment with edison to examine his alternating system general co will want edisons opinion on same when he returns don’t talk price to Kapp####Insull####[Image two]: Dangers of Electri Lighting####A Reply to Mr. Edison####Compliments of the Author####[Westinghouse's response, summarized]: Westinghouse is a very busy man with the many aspects and branches of his international business and patent interests, so unavoidable mistakes will occur. When the North American Review asked if Westinghouse would deign to reply to an article by Mr. Thos Edison, Westinghouse was too busy to respond, and so was his Patent-Defeat Explainer, who told the Associated Press "a little thing like that was not of the slightest consequence."####[From here I directly transcribe, skipping some material, to convey in full effect of the apparently satirical style of the piece]:He hurriedly dictated an article, and did the best he could with a dessicated cerebellum, but his thoughts would keep wandering to the defeat of the Westringhouse-Gaulard-Gibbsd Patents by Slattery and to the Bate Refrigerator Case that gently laid other plans of his upon the old, unfeeling ice. His amanuensis clattered it out upon cream laid paper and brought it to Mr. Westinghouse of a silver-plated salver. The busy magnate was just then receiving a delegation of Mongolian Millionaires who were negotiating for control of the Westringhouse Electri and Fuel Gas Patents in Kamskatka. Gracefully excsing himself, he merely read the preamble describing the beneficent effect of electric lighting upon public morals----He smiled over the subtlety of the concluding argument which states that since the Westringhouse System had five times as many centrla stations as any other company, the System MUST BE SAFE, or the public WOULD NOT BUY IT, when in rushed the Press Dispatch Purveyor with sixteen yards of proofsheet lists of new plants####"See here, Mr. Westringhouse, he said, "West Puddefod, Maine, is on the list for an increase of 5,000 lamps, third order: and there's only two farm houses and a gin-mill in the whole country####Mr. Westringhouse signed the article and angrily asked, "Who is President and General Manager of the West Puddeford Westringhouse Electric Light, Power, Heat and construction Company, anyhow?''####"You are, Mr. Westringhouse,'' humbly replied the trembling subordinate####----when I say a thing is SO, it IS SO, even if it was not before I said so."####O, of course, Mr. Westringhouse: we all know that . WE don't get a hange to forget it. But then don't you think it would be just as well to leave Jersey city off the list of increases? We have 693 without it, and it will not be missed."####"No, sir, Newver!! I hereby organize myself into a new electric light corporation for Jersey City, and order myself as President of the Patent Company an inccfrease of 5,000 lights. No, make it 10,000----Any more complaints?"####"Well, Mr. Westringhouse, you see the man that started the Sing Sing plant so as to sell out to the Gas Company oculd not make a trade with them, and he could not pay up, so we have taken back the installation.----But now all the pay customers have quit on account of poor service, and I think we would better take out the plant, sir."###"What! Never! When you don't make money with a Westringhouse station, the proper thing to do is to order more lights. That's what staten Island and Denver did! I order 4,5000 more lights for Sing Sing.---- ####And so the article was signed and printed without revision. A few days after it was published the Canadian Patent Decision was handed down "wrong side up" and the disheartened Turth Disseminator returned to Pittsburgh with his Sternum in a sling. (Sternum is Scandinavian for breast-bone). He limped painfully into Mr. Westringhouse's palatial office---#### "How now, McGinty," thundered the Millionaire, "what in Differential Solenoid is the matter? Didn't I give you full authority to draw anything necessary? And didn't you strike me for five figures and assure me it was all right?"####"Yes, your Excellency, but the papers state that 'the Canadian Decision means nothing at all, as it simply leaves Edison in position to sue if he wants to.' And I suppose it was all right, though I'm sure I could not understand it."#### "All right!! You Electroscopic Idiot!! It's all wrong!! You knew I wanted to knock out Edison s American Filament Patent by terminating that electroplated Canadian Patent, and that I sold a lot of stock at 28 on that guarantee."####----"Why, Mr. Westringhouse, it was your North American Review Symposium that did the business####"Nonsense! That's a magnificent literary production. I signed that myself. Why, I reasoned Mr. Edison completely out of his boots! And it's clear that I am now the Foremost Electrician of the Age! Morten and Poap both say so! Don't you notice how electrical my conversaiton is? But what's the objection to my article?"####----"Well, in the first place, sir, you say that Lineman Feeks was killed by the Direct-Continuous Current. I presume you meant the Straight-Direct-Continuous-Uninterrupted-Non-Undulating Current?####"Of course"####"Well, but it was the W. current that knocked him out, and three of our linemen found where the onnection was that very afternoon, and cut it out."#### ----"It's all wrong Mr. Westringhouse. One of them got drunk and jumped the traqin at Trenton. He sold his Atlanta ticket and came bak to New York next day."####"Holy Jumping Ammeter!!---Then put the remians in the fly-wheel and say it was the engine."####"It's too late for that; he has offered to peach for 500, and I think some one has him in tow.####"Well, then let him peach----####"It will not do, Mr. Westringhouse, it will not do at at,, for those continuous current fellows advertise inviting the public to visit their stations, and take their current right off any of the dynamos."#### "What? Put their hands right on the brushes?"####"Yes, Mr. Westringhouse, right on the brushes, and they an go to any dynamo they like, so it must be a square deal."####"Put their hands right on the brushes!!It's incredible!!! Why, I wouldn't touch the brushes for a million dollars and ten cents!"####"Yes, Mr. Westringhouse, we know all about your feelings on that matter, because you would not take even one hudnred volts when you were challenged to"####"That's enough!----Why, if I had to prove everything I said, I would have to go out of business. Those Edison people need not brag. They killed a man this fall!"####"What! I had not heard of that."####"Yes, they did.----Now, what else is wrong with that article?"####"Well, Mr. Westringhouse, your reference to experiments with dogs was very injudicious just at present."####"Why so, sir?"####"IN the first place, everybody knows that Mr. Kenelly used a Siemen's alternate current dynamo in his experiments. In the second place, it's a mistake that says the dog escaped after taking one hundred volts alternate urrent for sixty-five seconds. It was a misprint, and you have put your foot into it"####"Nonsense, no such thing!"####"Yes, it is, Mr. Westringhouse, for Mr. Kennelly testified under oath in the Kemmler case that that dog was killed, and that the word 'unhurt' was a misprint####"That's just like Tom Edison, to play such a mean trick. Why, that man actually called me a Shyster in the HERALD the day after he came hom from Europe. Me, a Shyster! And I was ready to make him the richest man in the world by ombining with him! And he wouldn't do it, confound it.,"####Then some one has been telling about Pickard's experiments with his dog."###---Why, during the Kemmler hearing last summer Billy Corcoran wanted us to get up some experiments to prove that the alternate current wouldn't kill. So one nnight Pickard and three or four toehrs of us went to the Sawyer-Man factory on West Twenty-third street and prepared to astonish the natives. We connected Pickard's dog with wet copper plates around one fore and one hind leg, and then we gave him fifty volts from a converter for a few seconds."####"What did he do?"####"O, he stood like a rock; so we gave him 100 volts from converters, and when we opened the circuit he just quietly stretched out on the floor."####----"It's impossible to do any damage after passing through a Westringhouse onverter!"####"Well, Mr. Westringhouse, we did not think to examine him, but we thought that if he could stand 100 volts without making any fuss, he could easily take 450 ----####"I know all about that story, and told Pickard to keep it quiet and instruct the boys to say nothing."###"Yes Mr, Westringhouse, but one of them is a sorehead, and he has given the whole thing away----And you should have said nothing about a Rhumkorf Coil in your articlce, for that is exactly what our converters are, and if the public should find that out, they would sling them into the ash barrel----####"If any one says anything of that kind, I'll deny it, sir; I'll deny it!"####"Mr. Westringhouse, I am sorry to say your denials do not carry weight nowadays: you've overdone it."####"I don't understand you. Do you mean to insult me, sir?"####"O, not at all; I could not do that. But you know that in December, 1888, you published a letter in which you said that a man in ordinary health could take a thousand volts alternate current without permanent inonvenience."####My very words, and well expressed too."---####"Well, Mr. Westringhouse, you say in your article on page 658, that your current is dangerous to life."####"yes, it is NOW; but it wasn't a year ago,"####"How do you account for that, Mr. Westringhouse? It is just the same electro-motive force and same number of reversals now that it was then?"####"True, but during the past year it has unfortunately had a great deal to do with that tender-hearted Board of Electrical Control, and they were too much for its temper and ruined it entirely."####"Now, Mr. Westringhouse, that is not fair. You know our current killed several men in the fall of 1887 and during 1888?"####"I don't know anything of the kind, sir: I never read such things when I see them in the papers, and I will not allow any one to tell me about them, and I will not let any of my men know anything about them either. Besides, most things in the papers about electric light are not true anyhow, unless they come from our Literary Bureau. Any other criticisms of my veracity?"####"I am sorry to say there are a great many, Mr. Westringhouse. Why, it was only a week or so ago that you published in the NEW YORK WORLD a statement that the circuits of the Brush and U.S companies were replaced with new insulated wire, and were now perfectly safe?"####"Yes, I did: and Poap and Morten said so too. They ought to know: they are paid enough to know most anything about what I want.####"But poor Harris was killed by running a showcase into a Brush lamp but a short time after.####No such thing, He died of apoplexy two days before that, and those confounded T.&H. or Edison people burned him with a hot iron and dropped him by that showcase just to injure me----But say--suppose the Brush current did kill him; I did not say in my article that it would not,"####"No, but you said in the WORLD that the brush circuits were SAFE, and they straightway killed a man. Now, you say in your article that the current from the converter is entirely separated from the high tension current, and cannot possibly kill any one.----####"But it's impossible. I say so, and Poap and Morten say so too; at least they certainly would if I asked them to. The two coils of wire are absolutely separated from each other by effectivve insulation through which the primary current cannot possibly penetrate."####-----"What insulation is there that is impenetrable to electricity, Mr. Westringhouse? You see I want to learn all I can from the greatest Electriian of the Age."####"Yes, yes, thanks! Well, I don't know anything that's absolutely impenetrable to electricity, neither do Poap and Morten. And I have even heard Moses say in his simple way, that Electriity, the Hand-Maiden of the Gods, could penetrate with oscillatory spark her ignaceous, angueletical way through a solid cube of plate glass sixty centimeters in horizontal, vertical and diagonal extremities."####"But, Mr. Westringhouse, what impenetrable insulation do you use in your converters, glass?"####"O, no: I believe we use the best grade of cotton and insulating paint, the blackest, glossiest paint you ever saw. Possibly it may not be impenetrable, but we never have had an accident in which the primary urrent penetrated the other circuit, never."####"Are you sure? Why Mr. Westringhouse, did you ever go into the converter room?"####"No, sir. If I could visit twenty rooms an hour in my various fatories, it would take me three years and fourteen months to get around. And every one of them is paying an average divident of 18 3/4 per cent, per quarter."####"I don't doubt it, Mr. Westringhouse, but if you did go into our converter room you would find more than half the force at work repairing burned-out converters with both coils connected together."####"O, that's perfect rot. That's an Edison story, You see Edison has to maintain a copper mine underground to run his stations, and he can't make them pay on that immense inestment. So they get up all sort of stories against us. They even claim to own a patent on the cmobination of the Earth with Electric Currents, and threaten to prosecute everybody that buys of anybody else. I can't talk to you any more just now; I have an engagement with the Akound of Swat; he wants to put 62,000 Westringhouse lamps in his Bungalow."####"Just a moment, Mr. Westringhouse! Ehy I know that in a single night at our Staten Island Station nine of our onverters burned out, and----"####"That was not the converters fault at all, sir, not at all. It was my dear friend Whyman rehearsing a Reciprocity speech that did that. That's enough to make anything hot, you know. There is not on record a solitary instance of a person having been injured or shocked from the consumer's current of an alternate current system. Those are my very words, and they are absolutely true and perfectly reliable."####"They may be reliable, Mr. Westinghouse, but I am afraid they are not quite true. Don't you remember the trouble we had with Unger, the engineer of the Hagerstown Westringhouse station? He had his hand paralyzed by getting the current from a converter."#### "Not at all sir; not at all. He was hurt while in the station, and the current was not the CONSUMERS' current. A consumer is one who uses the urrent supplied in his premises, and you see Unger could not be considered a onsumer, and so he was not hurt by the consumers' urrent. See? But anyhow, that accident was of no consequence whatever. Now, there has never been a single instance of a person being killed by the consumers' current from a converter."####"But, Mr. Westringhouse, have you ehard of the killing of that plumber at Dallas by touching the converter wires?"####"No sir,l never heard of it!----####"How about that laborer killed in the Hudson River tunnel from consumers' current out of a converter?"####"Nonsense!"----it was NOT OUR converter that killed him----####"Mr. Westringhouse, did you ever hear of the little daughter of Mr. Welch, I think his name was, who was killed in this--"####"See here," yelled the magnate," I am too busy to talk with you any more. Aleck, order my Special Car cleaned up tor the Limited."####"Hold on, Mr. Westringhouse. We might as well have this out right now! Mr. Welch had our atlernate current in his elegant residene, didn't he? He used the consumers' urrent, didn't he? He used the consumers' current, didn’t he? And we told him it was perfectly safe!"####"I have not the slightest idea what you are talking about----####"But his little daughter ---she received a shock and was killed---the matter was hushed up and---"####"It's no such thing! She was scared to death. These absurd stories that the Electrial Execution Sharps are telling have simply frightened people out of their senses."####---"You make me weary with your nonsense. I would discahrge you if you didn't have a five years' contract with me at $10,000 a year ($3,000 cash, and balance stock). Don't you know that any of our men--any of them, will take 1,000 volts of our current without the slightest hesitation?"#### "You are mistaken Mr. Westringhouse. Why, don’t' you remember that last summer Mr. Edison offered $200 to Salamander Smith or that little sneak Ig Noble if either would take even 100 volts alternate current?"#### "What? Haven't they taken that yet? I ordered them to do so! What do they mean by not obeying orders? Aleck, telegraph that pair of Ajaxes to go to Orange to-morrow and take 100 volts, or I'll fire them. I suppose everybody is laughing at us, confound their stupidity!"####"Well, Mr. Westringhouse, there are but few statements in your article that are not just as absurd and stupid as the testimony of those fellows in the Kemmler case, and--"#### "By the holy induced current, I did not write that aggravating article. Aleck did it, and he assured me that it was all right, and that Ballensberger approved it!"#### "Well, Mr. Westringhouse, what do you wish me to do now that the Canadian matter is ended?"####"I want you to report to Wm. B. Corcoran, of New York, as a philanthropic journalist who is opposed to Electrical Execution. I want that laws repealed----Of course, the State will accept when I have such eminent persuaders! And then the apparatus will not kill the criminals! See?---And then I want you to work against any regulation of electric currents by the Legislature----As if careless working men who get in the way of our wires deserved any consideration!"####"But, Mr. Westringhouse, their wives and children---"####"O, what are our orphan asylums and poor houses for, I'd like to know? And I am a very liberal contributor to charity myself!---"####"But Mr. Westringhouse, the MORNING JOURNAL sayas that the New York delegation is pledged to stop the slaughter by electri wires,a nd that they are all honorable men who cannot be purchased."####"O, that's all right; I don't need to purchase them. You and Burk just labor with them, and rage and tear against the heartless electric light corporations---That would put us into the bouillon, and ruin the entire speculation!"####"But, Mr. Westringhouse, the TRIBUNE, TIMES, WORLD, and SUN are all urging the Legislature to shut down on high tension currents and--"####"I'vve given them! That's real mean. But I know all about the next Legislature; Burk's told me all about them. He says he controls the Dam-Any-Men, and that he can work the others on the "Put-the-wires-under-ground-racket.' Don't you fret!---Look at this letter from Cravat if you don't believe it."####Taking the document and placing his hands on the brass railing, the Truth Disseminator turned on the Westinghouse lamp, as it was rapidly growing dark. There was a moment of silence in the room while the pungent odor of burning flesh filled the air. The converter insulation had given out----As Mr. Westringhouse arose from his chair, the body of his faithful employee fell upon the elegant Turkish rug with blood pouring from the burned hands.####"O, this is frightful! This is too bad!" cried the millionaire,"He has ruined my thousand dollar rug!----####And then the magnate went home to write an article on "The Sanctity of Human Life."####name mentions: Westinghouse, A.O Tate, Thos Edison, Gisbert Kapp, Sawyer-Mann Co., United States Electric Co, Feeks, Mr. Kennelly, Siemens, New York World, Brush, Poap and Morten, Harris, Whyman, Unger, Kemmler case, electrical Execution, Wm. B. Corcoran, New York Sun, New York Times, New York Tribune, Morning Journal,

Recipient

Date

1889-09-21

Decade

1880-1889

Type

Identifier

D8933ABL

Folder Set

D8933

Title

[D8933ABL], Telegram from Samuel Insull to Alfred Ord Tate, September 21st, 1889

Microfilm ID

126:68

Publisher

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