The United States Government vs. Alexander Graham Bell

An important acknowledgment for Antonio Meucci

 Basilio Catania

 [based on translation by Professor Filomena Ricciardi of the article, in Italian: "B. Catania, Il Governo degli Stati Uniti contro Alexander Graham Bell - Un importante riconoscimento per Antonio Meucci, AEI - Automazione, Energia, Informazione, Vol. 86, Supplement to No. 10, October 1999, pp. 1-12"]



This important trial started in June 1885 and ended in November 1897 with neither winners nor losers. The proceedings contain a large and authoritative body of evidence in the case for the priority of Antonio Meucci's invention of the telephone. They are, however, difficult to retrieve since they were never printed and distributed and because the typewritten or handwritten papers, which are located at the National Archives, in the USA, are, still today, unorganized and scattered in various files. The Author is presenting here some of the evidence of fundamental importance in order to illustrate how the history of the invention of the telephone is very faulty on this point and demands, therefore, a congruent revision.


In a previous article [1], it was demonstrated how some documents, proofs of Antonio Meucci's priority in the invention of the telephone, are retrievable nowadays, with much difficulty, only at the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland (USA). They are in disorganized files belonging to the lawsuit brought by the United States Government against Alexander Graham Bell and against the American Bell Telephone Company (hereafter referred to as US/Bell). This lawsuit was aiming at invalidating the two original patents [2,3] of A. G. Bell on the telephone. Within those files is found, in particular, the sworn affidavit of Michael Lemmi [4], which contained the English translation of Meucci's notes on the telephone experiments as he recorded them on his lab notebook (also known as Memorandum Book). Included in this notebook were his drawings, which, equally important to the notes, had so much bearing in the recent international acknowledgment of Meucci's merit [1,5,6,7], as well as in Resolution No. 269 voted by the US Congress on 11 June 2002.

With this article we would like to reconstruct the little known history 1 of those important proceedings and to highlight the role that the United States Government had in favor of Antonio Meucci. This is not, as the Reader will see, a scientific article nor does it have any legal pretense, but it will illustrate how all the people involved had perceived the importance of the discovery of the telephone and the role that Meucci had in it. Indeed, what the United States Government set out to prove was that the electromagnetic telephone was discovered by Antonio Meucci and the carbon microphone was discovered by the German Philipp Reis 2.


Fig. 1 - Antonio Meucci at the time of the trial.


The monopoly syndrome.

 Contrary to what we may think today, it was not the likes of Antonio Meucci, Philipp Reis and others who claimed precedence on the invention of the telephone that moved public opinion and later the Government of the United States against American Bell, but American Bell itself due to the effect of what can be called "the monopoly syndrome". In the XIX century, there were no limitations to monopoly, since the US Patent Laws granted the owner of a patent, for 17 years, the exclusive right to commercial profit in whatever way and at whatever price wished, preventing anyone to enter the market other than as a licensee. Consequently, due to the dominance of the patent owner within the market, those negative aspects of monopoly that today we know all too well began to take place: exorbitant prices, lack of attention to the complaints and/or the needs of customers, arrogance and the ever increasing abuse of power.

The problem of how to curb and limit the abuse of power of a monopoly has been a constant concern for the Government of the United States [9,10] since the last decades of the XIX century to day. The consensual closing of the proceedings of US/Bell in 1897 was but the first step in a long battle between the United States and American Bell, that culminated in the well known divestiture of AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph Co., heir to American Bell Telephone Co.), which was decreed in 1982 and carried out in 1984, almost a century from the beginning of the trial in question. Similar measures were later adopted in other European Countries with the goal of gradually limiting the monopoly status of the national telephone companies in each particular Country.

As reported in [11,12], subscribers' complaints about American Bell Telephone Co. became quite pressing in 1880 so much so that, in August 1882, about 1200 people gathered together at the Continental Hotel in Philadelphia for a meeting. There they discussed and condemned the poor quality of the telephone service, in the presence of executives from the Company. Since these maintained that the service was to be considered "average", the President of the Assembly, William W. Goodwin, proposed the establishment of a committee, called "Phil'a Committee", with the task of preparing a draft for a resolution asking the Company for a clear commitment on the quality of service that it would guarantee to deliver in the future. Toward the end of 1882, the "Phil'a Committee" met again to realize that no reasonable answer had been provided by American Bell and, therefore, a Syndicate was formed to look into alternative telephone systems other than Bell. At the time, a young electrical engineer who worked for American Bell of New York, reported that in that city "there was an old Italian who could furnish conclusive evidence that he was the original inventor of the telephone". The news (following other similar ones about alleged inventors of the telephone) was initially not taken seriously, but, just as a precaution, they thought it wise to ask a subcommittee of experts to make a thorough investigation on that "elderly Italian man," who was no less than Antonio Meucci.

After a few months, in the Spring of 1883, the subcommittee concluded its investigation with astonishing results [11], confirming the validity of Meucci's invention. The findings were sent to the wealthy businessman, Robert Garrett, President of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. (known as B&O), who sent them to his lawyers for a legal scrutiny. In the meantime, on April 2nd 1883, and independently from the Philadelphia events, the Globe Telephone Co. was established in New York, with the purpose "to manufacture, sell, license and lease or rent telegraphic, telephonic and electrical instruments and supplies therefor, […] to acquire by purchase or license […] patents and patent rights" as an alternative to Bell products ([13], Part 2, p. 43-46). A few weeks later, the aforementioned Syndicate of Philadelphia, founding out the initiative, took over of the new company and, in the subsequent reorganization, nominated William W. Goodwin as its President [12,14].


 Antonio Meucci's protest.

 As the Reader can gather from the events described, Meucci found himself involved in a situation that would have exploded even without his intervention, or that of his supporters.

Going back a little in respect to those events, we must consider that on his part, and in spite of the his dire economic conditions, Meucci had immediately reacted to Bell's two patents of 1876-1877 which he considered "usurped" from his invention. Initially (1877-1879) [15,16], he had relied on his lawyer Thomas D. Stetson, who had filed his caveat "Sound Telegraph" [17] in 1871. Later on, in 1880, he sought the help of Prof. Parmelee, of Col. William Bennett and others, who promised to uphold his priority, but without any direct commitment on their part [16,18]. Nevertheless, with the money provided by Col. Bennett, Meucci was able to rebuild the principal models of the telephone that he had created between 1853 and 1871, and which were similar to those that his wife had sold during the serious illness that he suffered following the explosion of the Westfield ferry [16,19].

Furthermore, since the beginning of 1879, Meucci gathered as many affidavits as possible for his case, drawing up 24 of them between January and July 1880. Of these, 15 have been found [20 ÷ 34] by this author. Of three more [18,35,36] (probably drawn up in Italian), he found the English version, made in 1885. These affidavits were mentioned and described in two articles published in 1884 [37,38], where six more were mentioned (drawn up by Henry King, Patrick Kehoe, Reuben Lord, Giuseppe De Gregorio, Antonio Lazzari and L. Meriance), which we have not been able to retrieve.

Due to limited space, we cannot comment on the details of each of them. We can say, however, that they contain valid testimony on the following topics:

 Meucci, furthermore, after getting a certified copy of his caveat from the Patent Office, in November 1879 [15], turned many times to the Press. He gave an interview to the New York World [16,39,40], wrote to the Messager Franco-Americain (letter mentioned in [41]) and to L'Eco d'Italia [41] (Figure 2). The same L'Eco d'Italia went back on the topic in an editorial [42] of February 9, 1882 in which, in addition to stating that "we will recognize Mr. Antonio Meucci as the first, the one and only inventor", it recounted the history of Meucci's invention and it also implied the possibility that, for their patents, Bell and Gray used the information that Meucci gave to Mr. Grant. The editorial concluded with an invitation to all Italian businessmen residing in New York to give financial support to the legal battle for Meucci's priority. In the Spring of 1881, Adolfo Rossi, who only a few months before had become Director of the Progresso Italo-Americano, joining the old and well established L'Eco d'Italia in New York, interviewed Meucci many times and printed a detailed history of his invention in a series of newspaper articles that were later summarized in his book [43].

At the end of this long period of preparation, on April 25, 1883, Meucci gave power of attorney to Law Firm of Michele Lemmi and Carlo Bertolino, to protect his rights over the invention of the telephone and consequently put in their custody all the affidavits in his hands, copy of his caveat and the renewals of the same, and the 26 prototypes of telephone that he had rebuilt [44]. The first occasion for the Lemmi & Bertolino Law Firm to promote Meucci's cause was when, on July 21, 1883, the newspapers published the Patent Office decision, largely favorable to Bell, after examination of the various patents and applications for patents "interfering" with Bell's patents3.

 Fig. 2 - Antonio Meucci's letter of 4 March 1880, published on L'Eco d'Italia of 6 March 1880 (the header of the newspaper has been placed over the article).

 Three days after, that is on July 24, 1883, the law firm of Lemmi & Bertolino sent to all the major newspapers of New York a letter signed by Meucci, in which he claimed priority in the invention of the telephone, citing his caveat "Sound Telegraph", filed on December 28, 1871, its renewals up to the end of 1874, and concluding as follows "I shall not abandon my rights, and I shall call myself, by valid documents, the first American citizen who has obtained from said Patent Office of Washington, a caveat which entitles me to the priority of invention of the great contended telephone". This letter was published, among others, in the New York Herald [45], and the Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review [46]. These articles produced an immediate positive reaction that attracted the attention of American Bell as well. As we will see in more details later, the law firm of Lemmi & Bertolino, in August of 1883, received some important proposals, among them those of E.B. Welch of Boston and of Alfred P. Willoughby of Chicago.

The negotiations with Mr. Welch (who was connected with American Bell, as shown in [8]), as well as the following direct contacts with American Bell, are described in detail in the affidavits [44,47] and amply illustrated in an editorial of the Chicago Evening Journal [48]. It suffices to say here that they were but maneuvers aiming at finding out as much as possible on Meucci's claims in order to dismantle them. However, the law firm of Lemmi & Bertolino were quick at identifying them and avert them at their very beginning. We would like to remind that representatives of American Bell, during a meeting with members of the Syndicate, hinted at an estimate for Meucci's invention of about one million dollars (affidavit of Robert R. Dearden, drawn up on the end of the affidavit [47] of Mr. Goodwin).

On the other hand, the contacts with Mr. Willoughby (connected with the aforementioned Syndicate of Philadelphia), seemed genuine and went well. Therefore, on September 22nd, 1883, Antonio Meucci signed the transfer of his rights on the caveat "Sound telegraph", for $1 4, to a Syndicate made up by Alfred P. Willoughby of Chicago and by Messrs. William W. Goodwin, James Work and Robert R. Dearden of Philadelphia. A few weeks later, Meucci's lawyer Carlo Bertolino relinquished to the Syndicate all the telephone prototypes created by Meucci and all the affidavits sworn in his favor up to that time. On December 4th, 1883, Meucci signed another deed of transfer to the same Syndicate for his patent application " Marine Telegraph", filed on 8 July 1880 ([13], Part 1, p.70) and a (ready to be made) patent application "Method of and apparatus for transmitting sound telegraphically" derived from his caveat "Sound telegraph" 5. Finally, on December 7, 1883, Meucci notified the Patent Office that the lawyers O.E. Duffy of Washington, DC and Howard Munnickhuysen of Baltimore, MD, (both legal representatives of the Syndicate) were going to represent him in relation to the caveat "Sound Telegraph" and its future development ([13], Part 2, p.5).

In the meantime, something was happening in Baltimore, where the aforementioned Robert Garrett, after receiving from his lawyers, in the fall of 1883, the final report on Antonio Meucci, decided to intervene against the gigantic monopoly of American Bell "in order to break the powerful grip that allowed this company to maintain its isolation in the market". In fact, on January 31st, 1884, the Globe Telephone Company of Baltimore was established with a capital of one million dollars. The newspapers reported that the founding members were capitalists well known in the financial world (one of them from London) and that they were connected with the Globe Telephone of New York [11,52,53,54].

The following March 31st, 1884, the corporate capital of 10 million dollars of the Globe Telephone Company of New York was deposited. The headquarters of the company was at the Mills Building, 15 Broad Street. The nameplate at the entrance of the offices, as well as the letterhead and the newsletter [12,13] released by the company, bore the name of Antonio Meucci as Electrician, to mean the technical expert of the company. Meucci's "magic moment" continues in September, with the publication of the article [11] in Electrical World, that recalls the entire story of his invention of the telephone and the events that lead to the creation of the Globe Telephone Company in New York. The article came out September 6th, 1884, a few days before the inauguration of the Philadelphia Electrical Exhibition, open to the public from September 14th to October 18th, 1884, where the two principal prototypes of Meucci's telephone were shown.

Also the Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review of October 11th, 1884 [37], with the title "The Philadelphia Electrical Exhibition &endash; First Notice" recalls the story of Meucci's invention and reports that Meucci's telephone devices are shown at the exhibit. Another quite similar article, titled "The Telephone Claimed by Meucci," referring to the same exhibit, was published shortly afterward in the prestigious Scientific American [38]. In both was reported that

the Globe Telephone Company (New York) exhibit is one that at present attracts (amongst telephone men) considerable notice. This company was formed to work the Shaw patents […]. But it is in the Meucci invention, shown here, that the greatest interest lies […].

The article continues with a detailed description of 18 affidavits, among those mentioned previously in support to Meucci's priority in the invention of the telephone, and concludes

by giving a drawing of one of Meucci's telephones (1857) exhibited here, together with a copy of the caveat filed in 1871 and a reproduction of the drawing said to be the original on which the caveat was based.

It is not possible to quote here the content of the numerous other articles and/or interviews on Meucci, published or referred to in the period from 1883 to 1885, therefore we only give their bibliographic references [55÷63].

In the Spring of 1885, as we shall see later on, some industrial companies started an action attempting to involve the Government towards hindering American Bell monopoly. The Globe Co., in view of joining the initiative, began to prepare the body of evidence in favor of Meucci. The person that took on the task was Dr. Seth R. Beckwith, a surgeon of Elizabeth, N.J., who also had a degree in Law and who, in 1883, was General Manager of the Overland Telephone Company of New York. There he had acquired a substantial knowledge in the telephonic field and had become an admirer of Meucci. Beginning June 1st, 1885, and following his request, Beckwith was hosted at the offices of the Globe Co., in New York, where he talked with many people who had seen Meucci's telephones before 1875, had talked through them and were able to describe them. He had them draw up 36 affidavits, most of them new, whereas some were rewritten or translated in English from previous ones, already mentioned, done in 1880.

On August 20th of the same year, Beckwith was appointed General Manager of the Globe Co. [64,65]. The following September 12th, he made the company publish and distribute a newsletter [12] that carried the history of Meucci's invention in which he enumerated the proofs of Meucci's priority with respect to Bell, stating that the Globe Co. had in its possession a total of 50 affidavits supporting what stated.

We have been able to trace 27 affidavits (sworn after 1880) which added to the 24 mentioned before, make a total of 51 affidavits, which figure is not too far from that mentioned in said newsletter. Those affidavits were listed and/or commented upon in a letter of lawyer David Humphreys, legal counsel to the Globe Co., addressed to the acting Attorney General of the United States, Hon. John Goode [66], and/or in a letter of Hon. Lucius Q.C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior of the United States, to the same Goode [67]. Some of these 27 affidavits [4,16,19,39,40,44,47,54] have already been recalled in this work in different instances; the other [68 ÷ 85] have been traced by this author at the National Archives, except the one drawn up by R. Benedetti, cited in [66], which was not retrieved.

Again, we do not have the space here to comment on these more affidavits. We would like to cite, however, the long affidavit [79] sworn by John Fleming, the secondhand dealer who bought from Meucci's wife all the telephone prototypes and other pieces and electrical components -- which filled "a box 3 x 3 feet, so heavy that I could not move it". In his affidavit, Fleming gives a detailed description of the things he bought, with precise reference to some of the prototypes reconstructed by Meucci in 1880.


Powerless against American Bell.
The Government is asked to intervene.

From 1878 to 1885, when the American Government finally intervened, American Bell had been able to gain, in local courts, a substantial series of victories against those who tried to attack its monopoly. The word however was that they were obtained thanks to the ability of its lawyers, as well as the connivance of some judges and people from the Patent Office rather than the objective superiority of Bell's patents in respect to the inventions boosted by other inventors. The lawyers for American Bell were even able to obtain from the judges, and in a very short time (a few weeks from the beginning of the lawsuit), a preliminary injunction which, pendente lite, forced the plaintiff to suspend all business activities. This, in turn, by preventing the company to generate income, forced it to exhaust its capital in legal expenses.

It is impossible for us to summarize all the court proceedings mentioned; however, it is important to point out that the first and most important court case that saw the confrontation of American Bell with the giant Western Union Telegraph Company (which controlled the telephone inventions by Thomas Edison, Amos Dolbear and Elisha Gray and owned much of the US telegraph network) was resolved with an out of court settlement, signed on November 10, 1879. The settlement provided for the division of the market between the two companies: the telephone market for American Bell and the telegraph market for Western Union, plus the official acknowledgment by Western Union of A.G. Bell's priority in the invention of the telephone. American Bell, on its part, agreed to pay 20% of the profits derived from any telephone subscriber for a period of 17 years and to buy the 56,000 telephones and exchanges that Western Union had already installed in 55 cities ([8] p. 175]).

This agreement was heavily laden with suspicions of collusion. In particular, there were well founded suspicions [8,86,87,88] that it was reached in part to prevent Antonio Meucci's invention from becoming public. Western Union, it seems, had obtained a complete documentation of it from its affiliate, American District Telegraph Company, more precisely from its aforementioned vice president Edward B. Grant as well as its superintendent Henry W. Pope, brother of the chief technical expert of Western Union, Frank L. Pope6. Its disclosure, in fact, would have annulled or raised questions about the telephone patents of both sides, since the then current patent law (Patent Act, July 8, 1871) ruled, in SEC. 24, that any patent in order to be valid, had to describe an invention "not known or used by others in this country" and, in SEC. 30, that "the applicant shall make oath or affirmation […] that he does not know and does not believe that the same [invention] was ever before known or used […]" [89].

The maneuvers to involve the Government against the monopoly of American Bell began in the second half of 1885, in the South of the United States and were facilitated by the rise to power of the Democratic Party (very strong in the South). In the administration of the new President, Stephen Grover Cleveland 7, were, among others, Gen. Augustus H. Garland, Attorney General, and Lucius Q.C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior, whose names will come up often later on.

The person who started the fire was Watson Van Benthuysen of New Orleans, Louisiana, President of the National Improved Telephone Company 8. On July 12, 1885 -- a few days following one of the many preliminary injunctions that American Bell obtained against National Improved -- Van Benthuysen wrote a letter [92] to the Attorney General Garland, inviting him to start a lawsuit on behalf of the Government with the purpose of annulling the two main patents of A.G. Bell on the telephone and, later, he drew up an affidavit in which he accused the presiding Court of collusion with American Bell [91]. Moreover, the following August 24, 1885, from Memphis, Tennessee, Van Benthuysen sent a memorial [93] to Hon. Henry W. McCorry, United States District Attorney for Western Tennessee "on behalf of the citizens of Memphis", underwritten by Charles P. Huntington (Mississippi), J.R. Beckwith 9 (well known lawyer of New Orleans, Louisiana, and legal counsel to the National Improved), and by Col. George B. Gantt of Memphis (a director of the National Improved). In the memorial they extensively outlined the reasons why the two principal patents of Bell should be annulled, and again invited the Government to bring a lawsuit for the annulment, suggesting that the trial should preferably take place in Memphis, on behalf of the Government of the United States.

On 31 August 1885, Hon. H.W. McCorry forwarded said memorial to the Attorney General, with an accompanying letter saying that, after examining the evidence and the affidavits enclosed with the memorial, he believed that Bell's patents had been "improvidently and irregularly issued" and , therefore, that he favored the initiation of a trial "wholly under the control of the government, so that it should be a suit of the government, in fact as well as in name." [94,95]. In absence of Gen. Garland, the letter was read, as per norm, by his second in command, Gen. John Goode. He signed the authorization requested by McCorry, who, on September 9, 1885, filed the bill of complaint of the United States Government against American Bell [95,96].

Obviously, American Bell was not about to take lightly an attack so violent and dangerous. First of all, it unleashed a furious press campaign with articles on the New York World and the New York Times condemning the Justice Department and its decision to proceed against American Bell and accused Attorney General Garland of wanting to promote the interests of Pan Electric of which he was a stockholder [95]. The Administration issued a press release, denying the accusations [97] 10, but, at the same time, on October 9, 1885, ordered McCorry to suspend the legal action against American Bell and turn over the entire documentation in his possession to the Department of the Interior, in charge of awarding and controlling patents, for preliminary examination and recommendation. Though McCorry, on October 14, reiterated his request to be authorized to proceed, three days later, Hon. Goode denied the request [91,94,95].

At this point, other opponents of American Bell, such as the Globe Telephone Company [98], the Washington Telephone Company, the North American Telephone Company and others, came to the aid of National Improved filing with the Department of Justice petitions asking the Government to intervene for annulling Bell's patents. The New York Chamber of Commerce as well approved a resolution in favor of the trial [94]. Later on, Pan Electric Company sent many affidavits, signed by eminent scientific personalities -- among them Thomas Edison [99] -- who denied A.G. Bell's priority in the invention of the telephone [100].

On its part, American Bell began to prepare itself for the inevitable confrontation with the Government and the new opponents. In particular, in order to face the Globe Co., it hired Pinkerton's National Detective Agency to follow Meucci and gather as much information as possible to use in its own defense and/or to start a legal action against the Globe Co. [49].

The Secretary of the Interior, Hon. Lucius Q.C. Lamar (Figure 3)11, did not waste time in bureaucratic examinations, and announced hearings, open to the public and the press (this also to avert another campaign against the Administration), from November 9 to November 14, 1885, so as to elucidate erga omnes the parties positions. Hon. Lamar had two Assts. Secretaries sitting with him, Henry L. Muldrow and George A. Jenks, as well as the Commissioner of Patents, Martin V.B. Montgomery. The Evening Post of November 10 [100] reported that the parties in the lawsuit were three: American Bell, a group of companies "which base their claims in considerable measure upon the patents of Reis and Meucci", and an "unknown interest which is represented by Professor Elisha Gray".


Fig. 3 - Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar,
Secretary of the Interior 1885-1888, Justice of the Supreme Court 1888-1893.

 On the opening of the trial, on November 9, Counsel David Humphreys was the first to speak, saying that he had proofs on Meucci's priority and that Meucci had a telephone since 1849 [98, 101]. Humphreys also read a sensational affidavit [71], sworn by Major Zenas Fisk Wilber 12, former Chief Examiner of the Patent Office, only a month before the beginning of the hearings. In his affidavit, Wilber denounced the irregularities committed by the Patent Office in favor of A.G. Bell, stating in particular:

At the time, in December, 1871, Antonio Meucci filed a caveat for "Sound Telegraphs," I was an assistant under Prof. B. S. Hedrick, principal examiner, and engaged under him in the examination of cases relating to electrical inventions; hence the Meucci caveat came under my charge at that time. At the time of the last renewal thereof, in Dec., 1873, I was in charge of applications involving or relating to electricity as principal examiner myself; and the Meucci caveat was still in my charge.

During 1876 the electrical department was under my charge as principal examiner, and I received as such examiner, from the proper division of the office, the Bell application which became U. S. Patent No. 174465 of March 7th, 1876, and the caveat of Elisha Gray […]. If this case had the usual course of suspension of the application been followed Bell would never have received a patent, and had Mr. Meucci's caveat been renewed in 1875, no patent could have been issued to Bell. […]

From my experience in examining a vast number of electrical specifications, I have become familiar with the terms and nomenclature used and have found that the terms used by Reiss and Meucci are expressed or meant by different later inventions under different names. I have noticed [for instance, that] the "closed circuit" of Bell is the "continuous metallic conductor" of Meucci […]."

 Note that in a later affidavit [70] drawn up only two days before the beginning of the hearings, Wilber described Reis's and Meucci's telephones as "the prototypes of all speaking telephones" (referring, probably, to the loose-contact transmitter of Reis and to the electromagnetic transmitter and receiver of Meucci).

After Counsel Humphreys, Dr. Seth R. Beckwith spoke, read Meucci's affidavit [16] and showed the telephone models built by him, his Memorandum Book and the many affidavits signed in his favor [102]. Thereafter, George Gantt, Casey Young and J.R. Beckwith illustrated the already mentioned Memorial on behalf of the citizens of Memphis. Although the position of these latter speakers was essentially in support of Philipp Reis, they did not hesitate to express appreciation for Meucci. George Gantt, in particular, stated [103]:

If human testimony is worth anything then Meucci anticipated Bell. I refer to the large volume of proof offered in support of his claim […]; but leave to others more familiar with it to prove it, at such length as its importance deserves.

It was clear from the beginning of the hearing that things were not going well for American Bell. In a preemptive move, the day after the beginning of the aforementioned hearing, that is the 10th November of 1885, in the Southern District Court of New York, American Bell brought suit against the Globe Telephone Co., Antonio Meucci, Dr. Seth R. Beckwith and Amos Rogers (secretary of the Globe), reiterating its tactic of gaining local victories in order to create a situation of res adjudicata in an eventual trial with the Government and to create an obstacle to the Globe's efforts in Washington in favor of Meucci [104].

In addition, the New York District Court was presided by the same judge, William J. Wallace, who had ruled four times in favor of American Bell. This move allowed the lawyers of American Bell to announce triumphantly, during their concluding arguments of November 14, before the Hon. Lamar, that "a suit is pending under the Bell patents in New York against Meucci and the Globe company" [118]. In the concluding session of the same day, all parties summarized their arguments in support of their positions. Dr. Seth R. Beckwith in particular, gave a long dissertation on Meucci's priority [102,105], blaming the move of American Bell as follows:

During this hearing it [the American Bell] has shown disrespect to your Honors, for on the 3d day of your sitting a suit has been entered against Antonio Meucci.

Once the hearings were completed, the assistants to Hon. Lamar each prepared a report. Mr. Montgomery sent his report on December 12 [91]. On December 22, followed the reports from Assistant Secretaries Muldrow [106] and Jenks [86]. They all agreed in recommending to proceed against American Bell. In his report, Assistant Secretary Jenks wrote, among other things [86]:

 There is also evidence that as early as 1849, Antonio Meucci began experiments with electricity, with reference to the invention of a speaking telephone […]. Up to 1871, […] although much of the time very poor, he constructed several different instruments with which in his own house, he conversed with his wife, and others […]. His testimony is corroborated by his wife, and by affidavits of a very large number of witnesses. He claims that in 1872, he went to Mr. Grant, Vice President of the New York District Telegraph Company, explained his invention, and tried repeatedly to have it tried on the wires of the Company. This, it is claimed, was used by the telegraph company, and was the basis of the contract between the Western Union Telegraph Company and the Bell Telephone Company, dated November 10, 1879.

 It should be noted that in the long report of the Hon. Jenks, only Philipp Reis and Antonio Meucci were mentioned as the inventors of the telephone that preceded Bell.

In his report, Assistant Secretary Muldrow commented in details the affidavits in favor of Meucci, concluding [106]:

 So many witnesses having sworn that the inventions of Meucci, Reis, and others antedated those of Bell in the speaking telephone […] I therefore believe it to be the duty of the Government to judicially inquire whether these facts do not warrant the institution of a suit to cancel the patent of March 7,1876, which bears the seal of the Government, and which confers upon him a monopoly of the use of one of the forces of nature at the expense of whole communities.

 And so, once again, the names of Reis and Meucci came up, the same ones that would fill in the numerous articles that appeared during those days in the major American newspapers.

Encouraged by the unanimous opinions of his assistants, Hon. Lucius Lamar, on January 14, 1886, wrote a letter to Hon. John Goode (acting Attorney General), enclosing the three aforementioned reports and the sixty documents exhibited during the hearings, recommending, in particular that [67]:

… the proceeding should be in the name of and wholly by the Government, not on the relation or for the benefit of all or any of the petitioners, but in the interest of the Government and the people, and wholly at the expense and under the conduct and control of the Government.

Hon. Lamar's letter raised Meucci's and his supporters' enthusiasm (not to mention Reis's supporters) to the sky; with the open support of the Government of the United States, this enthusiasm became so extreme that it took a legal victory for granted even before the trial began 13. Meucci himself, in an affidavit signed on July 23, 1886 [107] stated that

the Interior Department of the United States has practically decided in his favor, giving him priority of invention of telephony over all others. (See decisions of Assts. Secretaries, Muldrow and Jenks.).

Soon after the conclusions of Hon. Lamar were sent to the Department of Justice, American Bell launched a harsh attack against the Government at the House of Representatives, through the representatives of Massachusetts (who were close to it). These managed to have a resolution passed, on February 26, 1886, to establish a federal investigation committee, made up of nine members, with the purpose "to investigate charges against certain public officers14 relating to the Pan-Electric Telephone Company and to suits by the United States to annul the Bell telephone patents." [91]

The ad-hoc committee gathered depositions, documents and sworn testimonies from March 12 to May 27, 1886. They were printed in a volume of almost 1300 pages, in possession of this writer. At the end of the investigation two reports were prepared: one from the majority (Democrat) and one from the minority (Republican). Both were presented to the House of Representatives on June 30, 1886. The Majority report concluded that the Government officials implicated had done nothing wrong while the Minority stated the contrary, and thus things remained unchanged.

However, also on the Globe-Meucci front, Hon. Lamar's letter produced some impressive effects. With surprising swiftness, on February 27, 1886, (deed recorded on March 1st ), Dr. S.R. Beckwith founded, with the approval of the Globe Co. and Meucci, the "Meucci Telephone Company" in Elizabeth, NJ, with its headquarters in the Herald Building, 109 Broad Street [65,108,109]. It should be noted that none of the Globe stockholders were part of the new company. S.B. Ryder was its President and S.R. Beckwith its General Manager. As a matter of fact, Beckwith offered $25,000 to the Globe Co. in order to purchase its rights on Antonio Meucci for the newly established company in New Jersey.

A detailed account on this company is given in the valuable manuscript [65] by Francesco Moncada, who did research in the USA in 1932. He tells us that Dr. S.R. Beckwith, on April 26, 1886, issued a short circular where he stated ([108], Ans. No. 139):

 The company uses the Meucci telephone that was patented in the Patent Office in 1871, five years before the Bell patent was granted. The American Bell Company has been ordered by the government to appear forthwith in the United States Court on a charge that Bell obtained his patent by fraud, collusion, and his untruthful oath that he was the original inventor. The government demands an "injunction to perpetually prohibit and enjoin the Bell Company from again setting up any pretence of right or claim under and by virtue of Bell's supposed Letters Patent." The Bell Company or its agents will be liable for every telephone used, rented, or sold as a patented article, as soon as the patents of Bell are cancelled and made void by the government. Each and every subscriber using our telephone will be protected in its use against any damages annoyances or suits instituted by any person or company.

 These words are a clear indication of the euphoria that Hon. Lamar's conclusions produced. Works to build the telephone exchange in Elizabeth, NJ and connect the subscribers proceeded quite rapidly. Thanks to the courtesy of AT&T Archives of Warren, NJ, we have been able to retrieve the first list of subscribers of the Meucci Telephone Company (Fig. 4), which lists a total of 116 subscribers, 49 of whom already connected on May 21, 1886, the others to be connected by August 1st [110]. Even the lawyer Charles Swan of American Bell had to admit that [91]:

In April, 1886, Beckwith had made such progress with his exchange in Elizabeth that the Bell Company thought best to apply immediately for a preliminary injunction.
 Fig. 4 - Subscriber List of the Meucci Telephone Company of New Jersey, as of 1 August 1886
(Courtesy of AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ)

The injunction was requested on April 20, 1886, in the Bell/Globe trial in New York, alleging ties between the two companies. Nevertheless, the following May 28, Judge Wallace refused to grant the injunction against the Globe Co. since no significant ties had emerged between the Globe Co. and the Meucci Telephone Company. For this reason, on June 8, 1886, American Bell sued the Meucci Telephone Company in New Jersey. The trial went on until January 9, 1892, when it was officially closed, many years after Bell Company had won the lawsuit against the Globe Co. (1887) and the Meucci Telephone Company had stopped all activities (November 1888).

Going back to the events that followed the decision of Hon. Lamar, the Globe Co., seeing the brilliant success of Beckwith's initiative in New Jersey and fearing to loose the opportunity offered by the prestige suddenly acquired by Meucci's name, opened a second Meucci Telephone Company in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 15, 1886. The Company had also offices in Philadelphia, where they planned to hold their meetings, given that Goodwin and other members from the Syndicate ran their business there [111]. Thomas Bowen was appointed as General Manager of the new Company. The stockholders were for the most part the same as Globe's. Meucci Telephone Company of Tennessee did little if nothing at all ([64], Ans. No. 160), essentially because they were waiting "to bring the Meucci matter before the Patent Office" ([112], Ans. No. 79).

Tennessee (the State where the US District Attorney McCorry had repeatedly tried to bring American Bell to trial) was chosen by Globe officers as the seat of the new company on the grounds that it would not have been easy for American Bell to get an injunction against it, nor to win a possible trial with the same ease as in the States up North. For the same reasons, on August 28, 1886, the Globe Co. and the Philadelphia Syndicate relinquished all rights on Meucci's inventions to the Meucci Telephone Company of Tennessee [50], as a safeguard of a (probable) legal defeat of the Globe Co. in New York.

The hesitancy and prudence of the Globe Co., particularly of Mr. Goodwin and Mr. Humphreys, were in stark contrast with the swiftness and boldness of Dr. S.R. Beckwith. Beckwith even made precise plans to expand the activity of Meucci Telephone Company of New Jersey to Washington, DC, and Alexandria, VA, as shown by a contract signed with a W.H. McDonald of Washington, DC, on May 28, 1886 [113]. The contract provided that the telephones, complete of accessories, were to be supplied by the factory in Elizabeth, NJ.

These opposite approaches caused some quarrels between Beckwith and Humphreys which initially were just antagonistic but eventually degenerated in a vulgar fight with reciprocal accusations even before the court in New Jersey. Meucci found himself caught in between, but ultimately he was to side with the Globe Co., which was the formal owner of his rights.


 Government versus American Bell: the lawyers win.

 On March 17, 1886, the Government issued an order to sue American Bell, and the relative bill of complaint was filed at the District Court of South Ohio on March 23, 1886. The Solicitor General, John Goode, assisted by a staff of lawyers, was representing the Government of the United States [91]. The lawyers for American Bell raised an objection concerning the Court jurisdiction and asked for a motion which was granted on December 7, 1886, obtaining at the same time that the case be closed. Because of this, almost all 1886 was wasted.

The venue for the trial was then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where American Bell had its headquarters. The new bill of complaint was filed on January 13, 1887. The prosecuting attorney was the Hon. George M. Stearns under the direction of the Solicitor General George A. Jenks. The lawyers for Bell, however, raised another objection, sustained by judges LeBaron Colt and Thomas L. Nelson on November 26, 1887 (another year wasted!). This time, however, the Government appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington, DC, which, on November 12, 1888, reversed the verdict of judges Colt and Nelson and forced them to reject American Bell's objection and to resume the trial (nevertheless, yet another year was lost). This last sentence lifted Meucci's spirits and was considered by many as a victory for him, even if only interlocutory. Unfortunately, though, Meucci died on October 18, 1889, before he could find out the final outcome of the Government action.

After many other legal squabbles, finally, on December 6, 1889, the depositions began. The Government counsel were headed by the intelligent and persevering jurist Charles S. Whitman of Washington, DC. On January 30, 1893, when Bell's second patent expired, and the depositions were still going on, Bell's lawyers maintained that it did not make sense to continue a trial to cancel patents that had already expired. However, the Hon. Whitman replied that in any case a sentence would have provided a reference point for issues of fundamental importance for the Country and continued to go ahead with the Government action. Unfortunately, though, he died in September 1896 and, with his death, the effort of the Government quickly lost its impetus. The then Attorney General, Hon. Judson Harmon, made a recommendation to Congress that the case be closed with a minimum cost possible since he had made an agreement with the other party (American Bell) that the latter would not have in any way taken advantage of the Government inaction [91].

In the meantime, with the end of 1897, President Cleveland was concluding his second mandate and William McKinley, a Republican, was elected President. The new Attorney General, Joseph McKenna, on November 30, 1897, announced that for all effects and purposes, the lawsuit between the Government and American Bell was to be considered closed. So, in the end, there were neither winner nor losers: the only ones who had gained from this long and complex trial were the lawyers from both sides who charged their clients stratospheric fees.



 We believe that we have amply demonstrated in this article that the Government of the United States of America for many years extensively honored the name of Antonio Meucci as the inventor of the telephone, upholding that he, together with the German Philipp Reis (for the loose-contact transmitter), preceded Alexander Graham Bell. We have also amply illustrated how long and fiercely Meucci fought to defend his priority, until death took him, while the Globe Co. was still defending his memory by appealing to the Supreme Court in Washington, DC [114] and the Government of the Unites States was aiming to the same goal with its trial against American Bell.

Meucci's memory was honored by many and for many years after the end of both trials. Among the many, we must remember Guglielmo Marconi who fought strenuously to have the merits of his unlucky fellow-countryman recognized internationally [115,116]. Still in 1976, the Smithsonian Institution's publication [117], celebrating the Centennial of the invention of the telephone, featured only eight portraits, chosen among the many dozens of known inventors in the telegraph and telephone fields: one of them was that of Antonio Meucci. The others were Gray, Blake, Hughes, Edison, Morse, Thompson and Reis (Figure 1 in [116]).

Afterwards, the name of Meucci has been gradually fading, risking to become relegated at best among science trivia. The author sincerely hopes that such will never happen because if we were to deny or obliterate our roots or forget those who, with their hearts and minds so honored Italy and the United States, we would be the first ones to bear the consequences.



 The Author wishes to express his gratitude to AT&T Bell Laboratories - Archives Records Management Service, Warren, NJ, for permission to access its Archives in 1990 and now (2002) to quote and/or include in this paper some of the documents retrieved in said archives.

References made in this paper to American Bell (also referred to as Bell Co.), Western Union Telegraph Company, American District Telegraph Company etc. are merely in regard to companies that were active during the time that this article deals with, namely the XIX century.



 Note: Some of the documents quoted hereinafter are kept at the National Archives in the same file, though in different folders. To save space their location is abbreviated as follows:

[1] Catania B., Antonio Meucci: Si impone una revisione storica, AEI - Automazione, Energia, Informazione, Vol. 85, N. 12, December 1998, p. 52-60

[2] Bell A. G., Improvement in Telegraphy, U. S. Patent No. 174,465, filed 14 February 1876, granted 7 March 1876

[3] Bell A. G., Improvement in Electric Telegraphy, U. S. Patent No. 186,787, filed 15 January 1877, granted 30 January 1877

[4] Affidavit of Michael Lemmi (Translation of Meucci's Memorandum Book), 28 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1, 230/3/46/6

[5] Catania B: Un documento inedito rivaluta l'opera di Antonio Meucci, AEI - Automazione, Energia, Informazione, Vol. 82, N. 2, February 1995, p. 32-40

[6] Catania B: La labor precursora de Antonio Meucci sobre el teléfono desde La Habana hasta Clifton, Revista Bimestre Cubana, La Habana, Vol. LXXIX, Época III, No. 4, January-June 1996, p. 49-63

[7] Catania B: Antonio Meucci Revisited, Antenna, Newsletter of the Mercurians, in the Society for the History of Technology, Denver, CO, Vol. 9, No. 1, November 1996, p. 4-5

[8] Schiavo G. E., Antonio Meucci, Inventor of the Telephone, The Vigo Press, New York, NY, 1958

[9] Mueller W. F., Rogers R. T., Monopoly and Competition [90]

[10] Microsoft Bookshelf 1994 - The People's Chronology, CD-ROM Edition for Macintosh, Microsoft Corporation, 1994

[11] (Editorial), All about Meucci, The Electrical World, New York, 6 September 1884 (taken from Times of Philadelphia of 26 August 1884)

[12] Circular of Globe Telephone Co., New York, issued 12 September 1885, [13], Part 2, p. 47-58

[13] Deposition of Antonio Meucci, rendered 7 December 1885 - 13 January 1886, New York Public Library (Annex)

[14] Deposition of William W. Goodwin, rendered 10 September 1886, Loc. [B]

[15] Deposition of Thomas D. Stetson, Loc. [B]

[16] Affidavit of Antonio Meucci, 9 October 1885, [13], Part 2, p. 10-32

[17] Meucci A., Sound Telegraph, Caveat No. 3335, filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Washington, DC on 28 December 1871; renewed 9 December 1872; renewed 15 December 1873, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[18] Affidavit of Leonard D. Cunningham, 10 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[19] Affidavit of Charles Bertolino, 18 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[20] Affidavit of Esterre Meucci, 2 April 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[21] Affidavit of Nestore Corradi, 3 April 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[22] Affidavit of Luigi Tartarini, 2 April 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[23] Affidavit of Enrico Bendelari, 13 January 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[24] Affidavit of John Sidell, 21 July 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[25] Affidavit of Gaetano Negretti, 5 July 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[26] Affidavit of G. F. Secchi de Casali, 23 July 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[27] Affidavit of Ferdinand DeLuca, 19 July 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[28] Affidavit of Fortunato Barbette, 3 April 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[29] Affidavit of Thomas D. Stetson, 21 July 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[30] Affidavit of Lorenzo Ullo, 19 June 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[31] Affidavit of William Bowen, 29 March 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[32] Affidavit of Samuel L. Lewis, 29 March 1880, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[33] Affidavit of Domenico Lorini, 9 July 1880, original in Spanish. English translation by Michael Lemmi, 9 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[34] Affidavit of Antonio Meucci, 20 March 1880 (not found at the National Archives, but quoted in [37, 38] and partially reproduced in [12])

[35] Affidavit of Angelo Bertolino, 18 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[36] Affidavit of Matthias Egloff, 10 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 6, Folder 1

[37] (Editorial), The Philadelphia Electrical Exhibition - First Notice [with full Meucci's story], The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, London, 11 October 1884, p. 277-83

[38] (Editorial), The Telephone Claimed by Meucci [on Philadelphia Exhibition], Scientific American - Suppl. No. 464, 22 November 1884, p. 7407

[39] Affidavit of S. S. Pratt, 22 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[40] Affidavit of Ashael K. Eaton, 16 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 6, Folder 1

[41] (Editorial), Il Vero Inventore del Telefono [a letter by Meucci], L'Eco d'Italia, New York, 6 March 1880

[42] (Editorial), La proprietà del telefono, L'Eco d'Italia, New York, 9 February 1882

[43] Rossi A., Un Italiano in America, Casa Editrice La Cisalpina, Milan, 1899. See, in particular, Chap. XXII: "The «Progresso Italo-Americano» - Antonio Meucci and his misfortunes", p. 156-163

[44] Affidavit of Michael Lemmi, 24 September 1883, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 4

[45] (Editorial), The Invention of the Telephone, The New York Herald, 2 August 1883

[46] (Editorial), The Invention of the Telephone, Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, 18 August 1883, p. 127-8

[47] Affidavit of William W. Goodwin, including Affidavit of Robert R. Dearden, 14 November 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 4

[48] (Editorial), The Telephone Case - A Bell-Meucci Dicker - Bell's Secret Negotiations for the Purchase of Meucci's Telephone Franchise, Chicago Evening Journal, 31 January 1887

[49] Reports of the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency to Mr. W. C. Tompkins, American Bell Telephone Co., Boston, MA, 26 October - 5 November 1885 [on Antonio Meucci, A. Rogers and E. B. Grant], Courtesy of AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ (26 pp.)

[50] Affidavit of Thomas W. Bowen, 22 September 1886, Loc. [C], Complainants' Exhibit 504

[51] Langdon W. C. (AT&T's Historical Librarian), The Meucci Telephone Claims, Memorandum addressed to Dr. Frank B. Jewett, President, Bell Telephone Laboratories, dated September 21, 1933, Courtesy of AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ

[52] (Editorial), The First Inventor of the Telephone, The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, London and New York, 23 February 1884

[53] Deposition of Amos Rogers, witness for Complainants (Bell Co.), rendered 15 January 1886, Loc. [B]

[54] Affidavit of William W. Goodwin, 8 May 1886, Loc. [B]

[55] (Editorial), Meucci's Claims to the Telephone, The Electrical World, New York, 28 November 1885, p. 219-220

[56] Morris I. K., Antonio Meucci , Richmond County Standard, 3 January 1885

[57] (Editorial) Globe Telephone Company, L'Eco d'Italia, New York, 6 February 1884 (taken from The Day of Baltimore of 2 February 1884)

[58] (Editorial) The First Inventor of the Telephone, The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, 23 February 1884, p. 163

[59] (Editorial) The Claims to the Telephone, The Sun, Baltimore, 21 October 1885

[60] (Editorial), Telephone Patents - The Application to Use the Name of the United States in a Suit against Bell - A Promising Movement to Annul the Patent and Break the Great Monopoly - The Claim of Antonio Meucci - Sketches and Illustrations of the Inventor's Instruments, The Chicago Tribune, 9 November 1885

[61] (Editorial) The Meucci Telephone Claims, The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, 12 December 1885, Vol. XVII, No. 420, p. 500

[62] Tyrrell H., Garibaldi in New York, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, New York, V. LXXIV, May to October 1907, p. 174-184

[63] Roversi L., Ai margini della storia: Antonio Meucci a Staten Island, La Follia di New York, 3 May 1942, p. 5

[64] Deposition of Seth R. Beckwith, rendered 25-26 October 1886, Loc. [B]

[65] Moncada F., Antonio Meucci L'Inventore del telefono, Typescript of 215 pages, without figures, dated 15 April 1933, kept at the Staten Island Historical Society, Staten Island, NY

[66] Letter from David Humphreys (Counsel for Globe Telephone Co. of New York) to Hon. John Goode, U. S. Solicitor General, dated ca. 27 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 10

[67] Letter from Hon. Lucius Q. C. Lamar (Secretary of the Interior) to Hon. John Goode, acting Attorney-General, dated 14 January 1886, with attachments, Loc. [A], No. 479 of 1886

[68] Affidavit of William W. Goodwin, 13 November 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 4

[69] Affidavit of Antonio Meucci, 13 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 6, Folder 1

[70] Affidavit of Zenas Fisk Wilber, 7 November 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, folder 4

[71] Affidavit of Zenas Fisk Wilber, 10 October 1885, reported in [95], p. 1226-28

[72] Affidavit of Frederick Bachmann, ca. 28 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[73] Affidavit of Nicola Barili, undated, ca. September-October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 6, Folder 1

[74] Affidavit of John N. Biggio, 25 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[75] Affidavit of Matilda Ciucci, 23 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[76] Affidavit of Joseph Conti, 22 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[77] Affidavit of Paul DeMartini, 29 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 6, Folder 1

[78] Affidavit of Torello Dendi, 18 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[79] Affidavit of John Fleming, 23 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[80] Affidavit of Maria Gregory, 7 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[81] Affidavit of Frederic Kassan, 28 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[82] Affidavit of Domenico Mariani, 22 October 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[83] Affidavit of Alessandro Panizzi, 18 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[84] Affidavit of Nicolò Vanni, 19 September 1885, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 3

[85] Affidavit of Esterre Meucci, 17 December 1883, Loc. [A], Box 10, Folder 1

[86] Report from G. A. Jenks (Assistant Secretary of the Interior), to Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior, dated 22 December 1885, Loc. [D], Patents and Miscellaneous Division, file 1885-4390

[87] Argument by Seth R. Beckwith, presented on 14 November 1885 at the Hearing before the Department of the Interior, in the matter of a petition to set aside Bell's patents, «and on the Prior Inventions of Antonio Meucci» (The Telephone Case), Loc. [A], Box 7, Folder 1, Enclosures, Printed Records and Briefs, No. 9

[88] Argument by David Humphreys, Attorney for the Globe Telephone Co., presented on 14 November 1885 at the Hearing before the Department of the Interior, in the matter of a petition to set aside Bell's patents (The Telephone Case), Loc. [A], Enclosures Printed Records and Briefs, No. 8

[89] Chisum D. S., Patents. A treatise on the Law of Patentability, Validity and Infringement, Matthew Bender, New York, 1990, Vol. 6

[90] The 1998 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, CD-ROM Deluxe Edition for Macintosh v. 10.00, Grolier Interactive, Inc., Danbury, CT, USA, 1998

[91] Swan C. H., The Narrative History of the Litigation on the Bell Patents, 1878-1896, Boston, 1903, Courtesy of AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ.

[92] Letter from Watson Van Benthuysen, to Augustus H. Garland, US Attorney General, dated 12 July 1885, Loc. [A]

[93] Petition of Watson Van Benthuysen, Charles P. Huntington, J. R. Beckwith, and George Gantt, addressed to Hon. H. W. McCorry, US District Attorney for Tennessee, dated 24 August 1885, Loc. [A] e [D], file 4409-1885, enclosure 8

[94] Argument by Casey Young, Counsel for Memorialists and Petitioners, presented on 14 November 1885, at the Hearing before the Department of the Interior, in the matter of a petition to set aside Bell's patents (The Telephone Case), Loc. [A], Enclosures, Printed Records and Briefs, No. 10

[95] US House of Representatives - 49th Congress-1st Session - Mis. Doc. No. 355, Testimony taken by the Committee appointed by the House of Representatives to Investigate charges against certain Public Officers, relating to the Pan Electric Company, and to Suits by the United States to annul the Bell Telephone Patents (12 March - 27 May, 1886), Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, 1886

[96] (Editorial) Bell's Right Disputed - Suits Entered to Prove Him not the Inventor of the Telephone System - The Invention, It is claimed, Is the Property of the People of the United States, The Chicago Tribune, 10 September 1885

[97] (Editorial), Gen. Garland Explains - The Suit against the Bell Company not of his Making - The Telephone Monopoly, The World, New York, 2 October 1885

[98] Petition of The Globe Telephone Company, of New York, dated 29 September 1885, to annul A. G. Bell's patents etc., Loc. [A], Box 8, Folder 1

[99] Affidavit of Thomas A. Edison, 15 June 1885, reported in [95], p. 1211

[100] (Editorial) The Telephone Hearing - Parties in Interest - Importance of Professor Gray's Claim, The Evening Post, New York, 10 November 1885

[101] (Editorial) Attacking Bell's Patent - The Hearing in the Telephone Cases Begun - Numerous Petitions and Affidavits Presented Assailing the Validity of Prof. Bell's Monopoly, The New York Times, 10 November 1885

[102] (Editorial), Telephone Talk - Arguments Before Secretary Lamar in the Great Fight Against Bell's Monopoly - Discussing the question of the Government's Power in the Premises. - A strong Appeal Made for Antonio Meucci, the Aged Italian Inventor, The Chicago Tribune, 15 November 1885, p. 10

[103] Argument by George Gantt, for Petitioners, presented on 14 November 1885 at the Hearing before the Department of the Interior, in the matter of a petition to set aside Bell's patents (The Telephone Case), Loc. [A], Enclosures, Printed Records and Briefs, No. 7

[104] Bill of Complaint, American Bell Telephone Co. vs. Globe Telephone Co. et al., signed 7 November 1885, filed 10 November 1885, Loc. [E]

[105] Argument by Seth R. Beckwith, presented on 14 November 1885, at the Hearing before the Department of the Interior, in the matter of a petition to set aside Bell's patents, «and on the Prior Inventions of Antonio Meucci» (The Telephone Case), Loc. [A], Box 7, Folder 1, Enclosures, Printed Records and Briefs, No. 9

[106] Report from Henry L. Muldrow (Assistant Secretary of the Interior), to Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar, Secretary of the Interior, dated 22 December 1885, Loc. [D], Patents and Miscellaneous Division, file 1885-4390

[107] Affidavit of Antonio Meucci, 23 July 1886, Loc. [C]

[108] Deposition of Daniel M. Adee, witness for Complainants (Bell Co.), rendered 16 April 1886, Loc. [C]

[109] Incorporation of The Meucci Telephone Co. of New Jersey, signed 27 February 1886, filed 1 March 1886, Loc. [B], Complainants' Exhibit "Certificate - Articles of Incorporation Meucci Telephone Co., New Jersey"

[110] Letter from D. M. Adee to W. C. Tompkins (American Bell Telephone Co.), dated 20 May 1886, attaching Subscriber List of the "Meucci Telephone Company", Elizabeth, NJ, to 1st August 1886, Courtesy of AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ

[111] Incorporation of The Meucci Telephone Company of Tennessee (15 April 1886), Loc. [E], Complainants' Exhibit "Charter of Incorporation, Meucci Telephone Company of Tennessee"

[112] Deposition of Thomas W. Bowen, rendered 26 October 1886, Loc. [E]

[113] Article of Agreement between The Meucci Telephone Co. of New Jersey, and W. H. McDonald of Washington, DC, signed 28 May 1886, attached to a letter by D. M. Brown (detective) of Washington, DC, to The American Bell Telephone Company, Boston, dated 3 July 1886, Courtesy of AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ

[114] Appeal, The Globe Telephone Company of New York, W. W. Goodwin, Seth R. Beckwith, Amos Rogers, W. O. Kline and Antonio Meucci, Appellants, vs. The American Bell Telephone Company and The Metropolitan Telephone Company, filed 12 October 1888, dismissed 10 March 1892, Loc. [E]

[115] Catania B., Alla ricerca della verità su Antonio Meucci e sulla invenzione del telefono, L'Elettrotecnica, Vol. LXXVII, N. 10, October 1990, p. 49 - 55

[116] Catania, B., Sulle tracce di Antonio Meucci - Appunti di viaggio, L'Elettrotecnica, Vol. LXXIX, N. 10, October1992, p. 973 - 984

[117] Smithsonian Institution, Person to Person - Exhibit Catalog, 100th Birthday of the Telephone, National Museum of History and Technology, December 1976, p. 19

[118] Argument by Edward N. Dickerson and James J. Storrow, in reply to new arguments, presented on 14 November 1885 at the Hearing before the Department of the Interior, in the matter of a petition to set aside Bell's patents. Loc. B- Enclosures Printed Records and Briefs, No. 3.



1 For example, Giovanni Schiavo, one of the most accurate and competent historiographers of Meucci, in his book [8] does a minute analysis of the Bell vs. Globe trial, but substantially ignores the US/Bell trial.

2 Johann Philipp Reis conceived, in 1861, a make-and-break transmitter and a magnetostriction receiver, with which he could transmit musical tones and, with some difficulty, the vowels of the human speech. He died in 1874, but his supporters in the USA maintained that the carbon microphones of Edison, Blake, Berliner and others were all derived from Reis' make-and-break transmitter, only adjusted for a loose contact.

3 Meucci's caveat was not considered among the interfering patents or caveats, because it was not renewed on December 1874, he being in want of the $10 of the renewal fee.

4 On this low remuneration, Meucci was extensively cross-examined by lawyer J.J. Storrow, counsel for American Bell (see [13], Questions/Answers from No. 453 to No. 499). In fact, according to confidential reports of the Pinkerton's Detective Agency [49], it was rumored that Meucci received from the Syndicate a remuneration of $200 a month. Meucci, however, refused to answer, because he maintained that he was not compelled to disclose such information in that trial.

5 This patent application was filed on 8 December 1883 [50,51]. After seven years of various discussions, it was definitively rejected by the Patent Office on 21 March 1890, five months after Meucci's death.

6 Giovanni Schiavo maintains ([8], Chapter XV) that Bell and Gray, on the occasion of their respective experiments performed at Western Union in 1875, got precious information on Meucci's invention and that their subsequent patent or caveat was inspired by that information.

7 Stephen Grover Cleveland, of the Democratic Party, was elected President of the United States in November 1884 and took power in March, 1885. He was known as a fierce opponent of the decadence of values and because, in his previous public charges, he had firmly fought corruption and cut expenses.

8 The National Improved owned part of the telephone patents of J. Harris Rogers, the remaining part being owned by Pan-Electric Telephone Company (another competitor of American Bell), a company founded in 1883 and mostly rooted in the South. Therefore, the two companies had common interests. Hon. Garland was a shareholder as well as counsel of the Pan-Electric Co. since its foundation, i.e. before being called to the Cabinet of President Cleveland.

9 Not to be confounded with Dr. Seth R. Beckwith, General Manager of Globe, and founder of the "Meucci Telephone Company" in New Jersey, as we shall see later on.

10 In the same article, under a subtitle "The Telephone Monopoly - How it is proposed to break down the Bell System," it is reported that "five years before Gray and Bell made their applications for patents, Antonio Meucci, of Staten Island, filed a caveat for a speaking telegraph."

11 Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar was a respected political leader of Mississippi. He was elected to House of Representatives from 1873 to 1877, a Senator from 1877 to 1885, the Secretary of the Interior from 1885 to 1888 and a Justice of the Supreme Court from 1888 to 1893.

12 It may be noted that, in quoting important persons, their military rank was highlighted.

13 Hon. Lamar's letter gave rise, in some Italian papers, books and encyclopedias, to gratuitous amplifications and misinterpretations, as pointed out in the introductory chapter of Schiavo's book [8].

14 Allusion to Gen. Garland was evident.


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