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Argument of William Orton, President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, on the Bill to Establish Postal Telegraph Lines

Argument of William Orton, President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, on the Bill to Establish Postal Telegraph Lines

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Excerpt from Argument of William Orton, President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, on the Bill to Establish Postal Telegraph Lines: Delivered Before the Select Committee of the United States House of Representatives

Dear Sir:

During the session of your Committee, on the 11th of May, you remarked that you "had a letter from our Minister to Switzerland, Horace Rublee, in which he says, under date of March 21st, 1870, that the total receipts from the telegraph service for 1869 reached 1,043,350 francs; the cost to the Administration for the same period, 913,104 francs; leaving 130,246 francs as net receipts." To which I replied as follows: "I will Venture the assertion, and will prove it from the official record, that, so far from that statement being true, the telegraph in Switzerland, during that year, did not pay its own expenses. There is this fact to be taken into consideration: In Switzerland, instead of the expense of construction and extension being charged to profit and loss, they are covered by a special credit of $100,000 - an appropriation made by the Government for that special purpose, and only the interest on the sum annually expended is charged to the expense account."

I have just received a copy of the Official Report of the Administration of Telegraphs in Switzerland for 1869, which states that the expenditures for the year above mentioned were. . . $214,240.83 And the receipts for telegraphing . . . 197, 132.32 Leaving a deficit of. . .$517, 108.51

The process by which an apparent profit of 130,246,52 francs, or $26,049,30 was shown, was by adding to the telegraph receipts $5,689,09 francs, which were mainly derived from forced contributions from communities for the establishment of offices, and by deducting from the expenditures 148,100 francs, which were disbursed for new constructions.

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