[X120CAO], Letter from Frank Julian Sprague to Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Co, Edward Hibberd Johnson, May 24th, 1888


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[X120CAO], Letter from Frank Julian Sprague to Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Co, Edward Hibberd Johnson, May 24th, 1888

Editor's Notes

[7 typed pages adddressed to EHJ] "After a great deal of deliberation, and frequent talks with the other officers of this Comp;any, I think the time has come when I may properly call your attention to the preent an dfuture management of this Company and your relation to it. In order that I may be perfectly clear, I take the liberty of a slight retrospect, because I do not wish to appear unmindful of the difficulties of your position while deisrous for the best interests of this company. ## In addition to the other positions which you hold, you are now the President of two companies, which, by the very nature of their business, and the financial situation of each, are independent and somewhat antagonistic......Although first in the field, and in the minds of those who are familiar with the facts unquestionably entitled to preeminence, the Edison Co unfortunately stands now in the commercial community as an organization which has never yet won a suit, has had decision after decision rendered against it, and must wait the tedious, expensive, and uncertain settlement of its just rights by the highest tribunal in the land.....You can do little to hasten these matters, and now that the large Edison stations are well under way, your duties seem to have settled into the routine approval of the acts of your Treasurer and Comptroller. Iniative and independence are largely taken out of your hands...." Contrasts that with duties required of president of SERM, a "young and virile company".... ## "In the face of every obstacle and despite every discouragement, this Company has just passed through the most critical period of its existence, and by reason of its successful fulfillment of an unprecedented contract [i.e., Richmond], its reputation as the foremost motor company in the country has been fully established." But this was accomplished "only by individual exertions and sacrifices by yourself and me for which we were entirely unprepared...." We personally raised the money needed for Richmond: $40K from EHJ, $45K from Sprague. It's your job to be "in fact as well as in name, the financial and executive head of this Company. To-day you are so only in name; you rarely enter our offices; you have n ever, save in a Board meeting, sat there as an executive. The business of the Company is done by the younger men. It is almost an impossibility to get your ear on any matter pertaining to this business without the constant interruption of every many who has, directly or indirectly, anything to do with the Edison companies. Not a quarter of an hour a day is given to this Company's affairs..." Things must change! Am prepared to do business with Mr. Wright and with Whitney, also a long list of towns/cities but don't have capital to do the work. You must either take charge "or leave me the freedom to take the necessary steps to put this company where it belongs."
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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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