[X154A8AT], Letter from Uriah Hunt Painter to Edward Hibberd Johnson, March 8th, 1889


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[X154A8AT], Letter from Uriah Hunt Painter to Edward Hibberd Johnson, March 8th, 1889

Editor's Notes

My Dear Mr. Johnson:-- Yours of 3, 7, endorsed upon my note to hand.##There is no doubt in my mind as to where Mr. Villard got the ideas of which you complain.##I found immediately on my brining the question up with him that he had arranged his views as to the value ofhte plan.t##He met my statement with assertipms that I was ignorant of the true condition of affairs and narrated at length details which he had obtained from you, as to financial condition and management of the concern. He charged mismanagement in the past as well as at present.##I defended you to the best of my ability and insisted on his having been misinformed. He told me of an interview that he had with Edison just before leaving, in which Ediosn attacked the motor as being unit to put on the market and stated what were its defects and claimed to be able to furnish him a motor at short notice free from those defects. I replied that Edison had been at work for years before you took it up and that other concerns had been at work and had made a failure of it, and there was no reason to doubt but that they would continue to fail.l He then attacked Sprague as a business man, and I told him that I thought there were some grounds for his criticism in that direction, but that it was only recently that you had been able to secure the control of the Company so as to have a voice in its management that had you had sooner would have been to great advantage to the Company.##I then found that he had been made to believe that you were wasteful and and extravigant in your living and in budiness, and I did what I could to disabuse his mind of that and told him that under his assurances that he was going to take hold of the Sprauge Co., I had got friends of mine to buy sotck, and that while there has been errors in the past there was no doubt whatever in my mind but that the base principles which would sooner or later absolutely control the electric motors which would come into use in this Country and before many years be numbered by the million, were covered by Spragues patent.##We wound up the lengthy conversation by his assuring me that he would go ahead with his arrangements with you and make an entirely satisfactory arrngements for the carrying on and extension of the business, and that I should hold on to my stock and have my friends hold on to theirs; that he would be back in about a week and let me know all about it.##The fact is that you and Edison between you frightened him so that whatever hesitancy he has exhibited is due entirely to that.##I supposed I was doing you a kindness in endeavoring to get some of the weeds out of the garden and there is not doubt in my mind but what I did os. So you can imange my surprise at receiving a letter from you charging me with having conspired to ruin you, and of course if there was any foundation whatever for such a charge it was time for me to quit business.##If you have ever made a request of me for assitance of any kind that has not been promptly complied with to the extent of my ability I do not know it and I would have supposed that this fact would have protected me from even the suspiciion of unfair dealing toward you, especially where here was no motive for such conduct, and on the contrary every motive for the reverse.##In relation to the phonograph matters they can be discussed better personally than by letter, and I expect to be in New York next week.##You ask me in the conclusion of your letter if you sent me a letter from Reiff about te Bergman $1,000. The horrible suspicion has been haunting me since reading that line that you have sent the letter to Bergman. You say you did not read it. Then why in the name of heavens would you send it to any body. I do not know recollect what all was in the letter, only that it was in response to one he wrote to me complaining of Bergman and I recited to him a few frozen truths, and gave him permission to show you the letter, and hope that you have not sent it to Bergman for his opinion, as you know that he is of a very excitable nature and it will only make trouble if you have done so.##I am at a loss to undestand what you mena when you say that I am wanted there by Bergman, as he nd I are pulling in different directions. This is the first that I have heard of it; he has had his own way absolutely about everything , and I have endorsed everything he has done, except that I told him he would make a mistake if he put the enterprise into a stock company right off.##Is ther anything out of the way in my expressing an opinion to that extent and then giving him authority to do whatever he wanted as far as I am concerned?##He has a letter from me dated at the commencement of the enterprise stating that you could come in whenever you wanted on any terms you wanted. Is ther anything ambiguous about this?##If that is not satisfactory please frame a sentence that will make it soe and send it to me.##I gave R. $2,000. on account and told him there would be more when you and I had a chance to get the thing finally wound up, and told him afterwards that it might come to him in another shape without telling him what it was, as you wanted to have him in the new Company and I told you that every cent given to him now in money would be put into the same rat hole that he has been trying to fillup for several years, and you approved of my course in this matter.##I think that if [B. & H.?] will stand still for a few days that Villard will make a deal that will be entirely satisfactory to you but may not be to Mr. Sprague.##Will you kindly do me the great favor not to send this letter to either Villard or Reiff as it would be much better to read it ad then burn it as it seems that no acts of mine or good intentions ever are sufficient to keep me out of hot water at that end of the line to say nothing of this.






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