[LB009053], Letter from Samuel Insull, Edison Electric Light Co to James Frank Morrison, March 7th, 1881


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[LB009053], Letter from Samuel Insull, Edison Electric Light Co to James Frank Morrison, March 7th, 1881

Editor's Notes

Mr Edison has requested me to acknowledge the receipt of your favour of 5th and to give you the information asked for. Mr Edison has had his system of Electric Lighting in practical operation at Menlo Park for some months passed The system has not up to the present been put up in any City but the Lights are distributed at Menlo Park in such a manner as to demonstrate the practicability of lighting a city All that Mr Edison is waiting for now is the permit of the Board of Alderman NY to lay wires underground when he shall proceed to light the lower part of N.Y. The Editor of the Standard seems to forget taht there is great difference between commercial practicability and scientifically perfect. Among scientific men when they have conducted an experiment in a somewhat practical manner and have thus proved the theory it is called perfect but there is a vast difference between this and what is commercially perfect. This latter often takes much longer that the former. It is a question of dollars and cents. Over a year ago Mr Edison had 100 lights burning three months and no less than 40,000 people went to see them. That was the Scientific experiment. The several months past the Light has been exhibited on a large scale and its commercial practicability established. As to Mr Edison crying "wolf" so long I shouldhave thought a newspaper Editor would have known better than to have charged Mr Edison with more than about 10 per cent of what has been put into his mouth. The public interest in all information as to a substitute for gas has been so great that newspapers have been compelled to deal with the subject very fully and consequently they sent reporters constantly and persistently to Menlo Park who unable to obtain the information were obliged to rely upon their own imaginations for about 90 per cent of there so called "interviews." The Standard says the use of Electric Light is due to other men. So it may be: the Electric Light is not now what is new however as the perfecting of a system of Electric Lighting which will in all respects take the place of gas and no one except Mr Edison has successfully solved this problem. The Stnadard insinuates that the Edison Electric Light Co is a Stock Jobbing concern. As a matter of fact it is just the opposite. Originally there was a Coy organized with a capital of $300,000 to raise money to conducct experiments to devise a system of Electric Lighting perfectly analogous to gas divided up in the same way and capable of being distributed over a large area. The capital was furnished by about a dozen men chief amonst whom were hte firm of Drexel Morgan & co. During the great excitement when the shares were quoted at $4000 not more than 25 shares passed hands. Besides the Light experiments the question of the distribution of power by the use of small Electric motors was taken up and it became necessary to make money and it stand to [reason?] that when the shares stood at ten times their nominal value there would not have been the slightest difficulty in raising several millions of dollars but this was not done. The capital was simply increased $100,000. Moreover from the day the Coy was first organized down to the present time not one hundred shareds has been sold to the public oustide the original holders--in fact the most cnservative policy has been pursued throughout. As to Mr Edison's connection with the Western Union Teleraph Coy he had to find a market for his Telegraphic inventions and consequently was obliged to go to the people who controlled the Telegraphic System of the Country in order to get a fair price for his inventions. I would prefer our not saying the source from which you get your information in any letter you may write to the Standard. Mr Edison doe not contol the E.E.L.Co. but is I should say the largest shareholder




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