[X154A8AV], Letter from Uriah Hunt Painter to Sigmund Bergmann, March 10th, 1889


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[X154A8AV], Letter from Uriah Hunt Painter to Sigmund Bergmann, March 10th, 1889

Editor's Notes

Dear Mr. Bergman:-- Yours of 5, 6, by way of Mr. Johnson's office, and a delayed letter in the post offce on account of not being properly prepaid has just turned up yesterday.##I at once telegraphed to Reiff to return at once to me the letter, in order that I might see what it is that you have taken exception to, but he has not yet returned the letter.##The letter was not written to you, nor was it intended to have been ready by your, nor had any one the right show it to you.##The circuimstances under which it was written, and the object for which it was written were not hostile, but friendly to you and I have no apology or explanation to make for it, but shall expect one from whoever has been guilty of trying to create mischief, by sending you a letter you could not understand, without knowing all the circumstances under which it was written.##Beefore anything was said to you about the transaction which led to the purhcase of the Phonograph stock, an irrespressible conflict existed between the firm of Edison and Insul, and between Edison and the firm of Johnson & Sprague.##Edison was on the war path for both of you as he was for me, whom he charged with being your friend as against him.##He had been at work endeavoring to get the control of the Bergman Co.. For months, and considered that whenever he got near enough to it to show his hand he would do so; the calculation being to put you on the retired list. If you wanted any more evidence of his hostility to you than what he had been doing in the shape of constructing a rival shop at Orange and the attempt of Insul to get orders for work that belonged to your Co. you must be blind indeed.##I have never expressed to any one my opinion as to what you ought to do in reference to Reiff, although he was anxious to have me dos so a were you, while Mr. Johnson was satisfied that I should express no opinion in reference to it, and leave the matter to him, as if it was a question of liberarility with you, that was one thing, and as there was no agreement or bargain in reference to it, it would be folly to put it on any other basis.##Reiff has attempted since to get me to express some opinion in the matter, and I have uniformly declined, and will decline, as I consider that you are entirely competent to adjust such things yourself without any assistance.##Before there was any value of magnitude to the transaction, I simply repeated to Mr. Johnson and to Mr. Reiff what you had said to me at Long Branch, and told them both that if they wanted any interest in the transaction they sould have an understanding with you in reference to it, so there would be no opportunity for a dispute at any future time.##Mr. Johnson said he did not want any interest in it, unless you chose to bring up the question with him yourself, while Mr. Reiff said he did not want any agreement or understanding about it, and from that day to this I have peristently refused to express any opinion asw to what you ought to do.##Now about Edison's statement that you would regret the transaction.##I should think by this time you would have seen the folly of undertaking to buy Edison's friendship by pecuniary contributions or sacrifces of any kind.##You have practically already made him a contribution of a quarter of a million dollars, and what did he do with the money? Go and look at the shop he has built at Orange to take the work that was yours by all moral rights and courtesies known amongst gentlemen.##He did not own the Phonograph and has no more right to have set up a company upon it or constructed a workshop to build them than you had.##He knew as well as you know that the absolute right to make Phonographs was vested in the Co. of which I was in the control, and his threat to punish you for buying stock in the Co. was as silly as it is possible to conceive of anything.##If you will be frank with me, you will admit that, First, that things had got into a condistion where you were certain to lose the control of Bergman Co., by not being able to vote a majority of the stock, or the consumation of the long talked of goal with Villard, in either event the intention was to force you out.##Second. That the Phonograph purchase was a mere pretect and not the cause for a disturbance, as after it was all arranged, the war was more bitter against both you and Johnson than it has ever been. You were more shrewd and have protected yourself by a sale of your stock, and going into business independent while Johnson is being crowded to the wall by Edison.##Third. You must admit that if you had not yourself divulged the fact that you had brought some stock, and had left the thing entirely in my hands, you would have had no embarassment on that account, and I would have cut a groove so deep and so wide through the common enemy that you could have sailded a boat in it, in which you would have been a passenger enjoying the benefit to a far greater extent than you are today.







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