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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/417

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munication and postal communication might be considered as coming within the same category, as both provided for correspondence between persons at a distance, and the only difference was the mode of communication. It would be admitted, as a general principle, that the monopoly which had succeeded so well in regard to the conveyance of letters might be expected to succeed equally as well in a more rapid method of communication. He was not aware of monopoly in the one case which would not hold good in the other." The reasoning of the distinguished Chancellor applies with greater force to this country, where the rates are higher than they were at this time in Great Britain, and where the entire telegraph system is in the hands of a single private corporation. The transfer of the telegraph business to the Government in Great Britain took place February 5, 1870, and in 1872 there was a net revenue from this source of £159,835, which increased in succeeding years. The following table exhibits the extent of telegraph business in the countries named:

COUNTRY. No. of telegraph-
Length of lines
Receipts. Year.
Great Britain 5,254 115,460 £1,346,892 1879
France 2,895 35,445 $3,203,800 00 1878
Russia 2,166 59,012 3,046,539 08 1874
Switzerland 1,150 . . . . . 400,763 00 1879
Belgium 586 3,234 426,258 84 1878
Italy 1,795 14,750 1,451,088 64 1875

The conclusions deduced from the foregoing facts, as applied to the question of adopting such a system in this country, are:

1. That the Government has the constitutional right to own and operate lines of telegraph, as a part of the general postal system, to the exclusion of all private competition; and, further, that such action is clearly a constitutional duty.

2. That in all the leading countries of the world the Government exercises this right, either in whole or in part, to the great benefit of the citizens of such countries, protecting them from the extortions of monopolies, and guaranteeing, for a small charge, to transmit and deliver their telegraphic correspondence with the privacy of sealed letters, with greater certainty and efficiency than can be assured by private corporations.

3. That there is no reason to doubt that the success which has attended the system in other countries would obtain here, especially when we consider the energy and enterprise of our countrymen, and the extent and resources of our great and rapidly developing country; and that with a uniform tariff, say of twenty cents for twenty words or less, it could be made in a few years to cover all expense, if not (which is probable) a source of revenue to the Government. That the near future will witness this realization is quite certain.