Ten years after Samuel Morse uttered “what hath God wrought?”, the United States boasted more than 20,000 miles of telegraph cable. But communication with Europe remained slow, taking as much as two weeks by ship.
In 1854, Cyrus West Field “secured a charter” to lay a trans-Atlantic cable. The New York, Newfoundland & London Telegraph Company held “a 99-year right to land cables on the eponymous island and on its coast dependent, Labrador – the closest parts of the American continent to Europe.” His first project: a cable line from St. Johns, Newfoundland, to New York City.
His British partners: Charles Bright and John Brett.
They raised £350,000 in private capital, mostly from the business communities in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. They secured a £14,000 per year subsidy from the British government plus the loan of ships and a similar amount from the US government.
On 05 August 1858, the ships reached their destinations and a cable stretched almost 2,000 miles across the Atlantic, from Trinity Bay, Newfoundland to Valentia, Ireland. Cable depth: often of more than two miles.
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