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Posted By: Dave Gaddy on: 06/03/2009 08:01:11 EDT
Subject: RE: USMT Authority Over Private Lines

Message Detail:
Very similar to events on the Southern side. A less compliant Congress these days would doubtless recognize the conflict of interest inherent in giving such authority to the civilian head of telegraph operations, therby empowering him to absorb rivals. While the North delegated the President's authority to War Dept, thence to QMG, thence to Stager, the Confederate arrangement delegated to PMG Reagan, making him equivalent to Meigs. Reagan sub-delegated to Dr. Morris, supt of Southern Tel (formerly the southern part of American Tel), and Morris to the CSMT equivalent of Eckert, Mr. Coldwell. Throughout the war, the CS Exec and cabinet depts, including the War Dept, PAID for xmsn of telegrams over the commercial lines (look, for example, in "Lee's Dispatches to Jefferson Davis," where you'll see telegrams annotated with calculation of words and cost), making it more difficult to calculate equivalent use of the telegraph by the CSA side.

Stager made good use of his opportunity for WU, which completed the east-west link with the Pacific. And a short time after the end of the war, WU absorbed rival American Tel.

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