New York. Chamber of commerce of the state of New.

The Atlantic cable projectors. Painting by Daniel Huntington presented to the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, May 23d, 1895, by Morris K. Jesup, Chairman of the Committee, and received by Alexander E. Orr, President of the Chamber online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryNew York. Chamber of commerce of the state of NewThe Atlantic cable projectors. Painting by Daniel Huntington presented to the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, May 23d, 1895, by Morris K. Jesup, Chairman of the Committee, and received by Alexander E. Orr, President of the Chamber → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





/r^s ^ 4VT> jp^




3X. x , *&<<'~?> s*r* :^x O/



J? f^?#fW |^?


^ /T* y JU^Vfc^ >3X 4^?
tv~ ^So'v^ a* y"f* /WG J: .

? WV^l

"sfa^ .>y



'P '' ,\Y .?^-\' ^i


^ ^f% WS7/ ^

r\v? 1 '4** : "" ^ -.

4* \

H/ \f* /*".


w^,; : 4-



?7' ' / >r"* ' '





cum or coun or THE STATE OF mnoai

NIAY 23d, 1895,

By MORRIS K. JESUP, Chairman of the Committee,


ALEXANDER E. ORR, President of the Chamber.







IT is a matter of pride for America that the pro-
ject of an Atlantic Telegraph originated on this side
of the ocean. No doubt the possibility of it had
occurred to many minds, but it was all a dream,
until an American had the courage to strike out
into the deep, with the determination to make it a
reality. So fully was this recognized abroad that
JOHN BKIGHT was accustomed to speak with enthu-
siasm of "his friend, CYRUS FIELD," as "the COLUM-
BUS of modern times, who had moored the New
World close alongside the Old." But proud as any
man must be of such praise from the Great Com-
moner of England to an American, no recognition
could be quite so dear as that of his own country-
men. When the first cable was laid in 1858, the
Chamber of Commerce elected Mr. FIELD an hono-
rary member, and gave him a gold medal. And
again, in 1866, when the final success was assured,
it was celebrated by a banquet, at which the late


Mr. A. A. Low presided, and at which were present
not only the merchants and bankers who compose
this great commercial body, but men of distinction
from different parts of the country, the Army and
Navy being represented by their highest officers,
General MEADE and Admiral FAERAGUT. Now the
Chamber of Commerce as the proper guardian of
the name and fame of its own members completes
its gracious office of commemoration by a more per-
manent memorial of the Atlantic Telegraph in a
historical painting of Mr. FIELD and his honored
associates, that, as it hangs upon the walls of the
Chamber, will remind those who come after us
what manner of men they were who achieved so
great a work for their country and for the world.

NEW- YOKE, May 30, 1895.



In October, 1892, the Chamber requested its
Executive Committee to suggest some plan by which
an appropriate and lasting memorial of the great
work of Mr. CYRUS W. FIELD in the establishment
of the Atlantic Cable might be preserved.

On the 6th of April following, the Executive Com-
mittee reported that after consideration of the
matter, and in view of their knowledge of the long
cherished desire of Mr. FIELD that the memory of
the achievement should be perpetuated in the form
of a great historical painting, in which the linea-
ments and figures of the projectors should appear,
they recommend that arrangements be made with
Mr. DANIEL HUNTINGTON, the distinguished artist,
.to execute a work of this character, to be displayed
upon the walls of the Chamber.

This recommendation was unanimously adopted
and a Special Committee appointed to carry it out.

Of this Committee, I had the honor of being made


Chairman, with Messrs. ABRAM S. HEWITT and
WILLIAM E. DODGE, as associates.

Shortly after, a conference was had with the
artist, and after hearing from him a description of
the proposed work, an order was given for its

Mr. HUNTINGTON at once entered upon the diffi-
cult and laborious task, and for more than a year
has given it the closest attention and applied to it
his best skill ; the result you now have before you.

In this connection, I beg to read a letter received
from the artist a few days ago, in which he gives a
brief statement of the origin of the painting.


May 20, 1895.

The first thought of a picture representing the
Projectors of the Atlantic Telegraph came from Mr.
CYRUS W. FIELD. He called at my studio soon
after the final and complete success of the cable of
1866, and consulted me about painting such a group.
I went with him to his house on Gramercy Park,
and he sent a message to Mr. PETER COOPER, who
came and took the chair, as he was accustomed to
preside. Mr. FIELD stood by the table, with charts
and globe at hand, as he usually stood when ex-


plaining his plans. I then made sketches for the
proposed picture. Mr. ROBERTS was consulted, and
approved of the idea. Other members of the Board
differed in opinion, and there was some opposition ;
the purpose was, therefore, postponed indefinitely,
Mr. FIELD expressing great disappointment. For
many years nothing more was thought of it. In the
spring of 1892 he suffered from a severe illness, and
on one of the days of a partial rally, though so
feeble that he could scarcely walk, he called on me
and on Mr. AVERT to ask our approval, as a Com-
mittee of the Museum of Art, of his desire to pre-
sent to that institution all the memorials of the
Atlantic Cable, the pictured incidents and scenes.
On that day I said to him, "It was a misfortune
that the picture he had proposed of the Cable Pro-
jectors had not been executed," to which he replied,
" Yes, it was a sad mistake, and I fear it is too late
and will never be done." I mentioned this conver-
sation to Mr. WILSON, soon after Mr. FIELD'S
death, and he said at once, " I do not think it is too
late, and I hope it may yet be done." The next
thing I heard was that Mr. JESUP had brought the
subject up before the Chamber of Commerce, and
that a Committee, composed of Messrs. JESUP, DODGE
and HEWITT, had been named, under whose counsel,


authority and encouragement, I began the picture
early in the year 1894, and the result you have now
seen. I may add that I have had the advantage of
a personal acquaintance with all the persons intro-
duced, (and have painted portraits of them all,}
except Mr. CHANDLEE WHITE, who died in 1856,
Mr. WILSON Gr. HCJNT becoming a Director in his

Truly yours,



And now, Mr. President, it is my pleasing duty as
Chairman of the Committee to present to the Cham-
ber through you this beautiful and artistic painting,
designed to commemorate a great scientific achieve
ment, the value of which we all recognize, and
which will be better appreciated by future genera-
tions. Several of the individuals whose faces are
set forth in the painting have been members of the
Chamber and familiar to us, especially Mr. FIELD,
the man who, by his courage and indomitable
energy, gave to the world that voice that now
speaks to us in silent tones, bringing together in
closer relations all the nations of the earth.

In conclusion, I beg to acknowledge the liberality
of those who enabled the Chamber to become the


possessor of this great work of art, and to express
to them its appreciation and thanks.

Mr. JESUP read the following letter from Mr.
Justice FIELD, of the United States Supreme Court :


May 20ta, 1895.

To the Chamber of Commerce of New- York :

GENTLEMEN: I have to acknowledge your kind
invitation to be present at the unveiling of the
painting of the Projectors of the Atlantic Cable.
Pew subjects are more worthy of the genius of
the artist or the historian. When COLUMBUS dis-
covered the New World, it was almost as far
away from the Old World as if it had been in
another planet. Improvements in the art of naviga-
tion brought the continents nearer to each other;
but it was reserved to modern science to make it
possible to have instantaneous communication.
The mere conception was almost a Divine inspira-
tion, but to carry it into execution was the work of
twelve laborious years years interrupted by defeats
and disappointments, that would have broken down
the courage of most men. All this I had reason to


know from my relation to one who took such a
part in the enterprise, and hence, I should be with
you on an occasion of so much interest, but that it
comes in the very last week of the Court. You
need, however, no individual presence. The great
painting before you speaks for itself. The faces
there portrayed are familiar to the people of New-
York as among those of their most honored citizens.
All of them are now gone from the world, but the
remembrance of what they did may well be a matter
of pride to their children, and it is fitting that
this historic scene should be put on canvas by your
distinguished artist, and placed in the great hall of
your Chamber of Commerce, to preserve the memory
of it to future generations.

I am, with great respect,

Yours very sincerely,




which is hung to-day upon the walls of the Cham-
ber of Commerce illustrates one of the great events
of history. The men who are portrayed in it are
representative of American pluck and opportunity.
Each of them, in his own way, did much for the
commercial greatness of the metropolis and the
grandeur of the commerce of our country. They
were, in the broadest and best sense, self-made men.
They were not accidents, but architects. They com-
menced life without fortune or influence, with no
other capital than character and brains, and won
power, fame and fortune.

The conditions attendant upon the acquisition of
wealth dry up generous impulses and make the pos-
sessors hard, cold and unsympathetic. The notable
exceptions to the rule are the more deserving of
admiration and praise. These six New-Yorkers
and Americans had never permitted their failures or
their successes to dim their enthusiasm or dull their
imagination. Though the most practical of business
men, yet they could risk their money and their


reputations upon a scheme which, in its beginnings,
had little else to recommend it but patriotism and

Those who win great wealth suddenly or fortu-
itously, risk it with a recklessness born of the ease
with which it came. But they who have slowly and
laboriously climbed the ladder of fortune, look with
suspicion upon enterprises, the opportunities of
which have not been thoroughly tested and tried.
They know that, with their experience and demon-
strated ability, they can outstrip their fellows and
secure success where less able but more adventurous
travelers have beaten the path and shown the way.

The six gentlemen who gathered in CYRUS W.
FIELD'S parlor on March 10th, 1854, were splendid
examples of American success. CYRUS FIELD, the
son of a Connecticut clergyman who had naught to
give his family but an education and an example,
had retired from business with a fortune at thirty-five.
His brother, DAVID DUDLEY, stood in the front rank
of American lawyers, his codifications of law having
secured national and international recognition.
MARSHALL O. ROBERTS had ventured with equal
success upon the ocean and upon the land. WILSON
G. HUNT was a conservative, broad-minded and
eminently successful New- York merchant. MOSES


TAYLOE was one of the most far-sighted and eminent
bankers and projectors of America. PETEE COOPER
had overcome almost insurmountable obstacles in
his career, and at ninety years of age was still quick
in his sympathy with the growth of the City, the
development of his country, with the needs of man-
kind and with every effort for the education and as-
sistance of youth.

Before this assemblage Mr. FIELD placed the pro-
ject of an Atlantic cable. The wire which could be
successfully laid under the ocean had not yet been
invented or manufactured. The possibilities of the
construction of such a line had not been tested. The
perils and obstacles between Europe and America
and in the depths of ocean were unknown. The
factors presented to these men of caution and of
sense were, a letter from Lieut. MAUEY, of the
United States Navy, expressing a belief in a level
plateau under the ocean between Newfoundland and
Ireland ; a letter from Prof. MOESE, then radiant
with the young fame of his successful telegraph,
saying that though it never had been tried, he yet
believed a message could be transmitted through
three thousand miles of wire ; and the enthusiasm
and confidence of CYEUS W. FIELD. "It will unite
the Old World and the New, it will promote peace


and civilization, it will help commerce, it will bring
our country in contact with the world, and upon that
I will stake my reputation, my undivided time and
energies and my fortune," said Mr. FIELD. "This is
more patriotism than business," was the answer of
his guests, "but we will furnish the money re-

Before the laying of the cable could be commenced
the wires must be put under the Gulf of St.
Lawrence and stretched through four hundred miles
of unbroken wilderness which had never been
traversed by man, across Newfoundland to St. Johns.
As if upon a holiday excursion, the party sailed
from New- York, to lose their line in the Gulf
of St. Lawrence, and returned chastened and
dispirited. Again Mr. FIELD set forth, this time to
complete his enterprise to the point where the con-
nection could be made with the expected cable from
Europe. He went abroad as a missionary in 1856,
preaching the cable and its opportunities to English
statesmen and bankers. There was no need of his
arguing its value ; that was thoroughly understood
on both sides of the Atlantic. The fleet was
gathered. It left the coast of Ireland with its
precious burden, speeded by cheers and salutes and
guns, to have the line break when three hundred


miles from the shore. Undaunted, undismayed,
nerved with new energy by defeat, made of the stuff
with which the world's conquerors have been en-
dowed, CYRUS FIELD appealed once more to falter-
ing friends on both sides of the water. Once more
they responded. The United States and Great
Britain contributed the best frigates of their navies,
which sailed in company to mid-ocean, where, as a
sign of the amity and concord which was to follow
success, the American man of war steamed with her
freight of coil toward the Emerald Isle, and the
British man of war, with her half of it, toward
America. Hundreds of miles of wire had found a
bed at the bottom of the ocean and been success-
fully tested, when the storms of the sea broke the
cable, and the expedition returned to England.

The indomitable pluck found in the Puritan strain
spurred dying hope to one last effort, and the
cable was laid. President BUCHANAN sent his mes-
sage to Queen VICTORIA, and the Queen responded
with equal cordiality and gratitude. The world was
aflame with eager expectation and joy. The builder
came to our City a conqueror, to be welcomed with
ovations and a triumph as significant, as grand and
as national, as any which ever hailed a CAESAR, with
the world at his chariot wheels, entering imperial


Rome. The messages continued to fly back and
forth. Then came the dramatic and tragic end.
There were no hecatombs of dead, no wailing of
wounded, no bereaved homes, but there was a
wreck and destruction of hope involving more
people and more countries than resulted from any
other disaster of the ages. While the guns were
booming, the torchlights flashing, and the rockets
bursting in air, on that very night the cable of 1858
ceased to work. The first shock over, the mad-
dened populace, looking as ever for a victim, pur-
sued the victor of yesterday as the fraud of the
morrow. Torrents of invective and of epithet from
the press, the exchanges and the public were
poured upon the scheme and its author. " The
cable had never worked ; the messages were all
false ; we have been tricked and deceived for stock-
jobbing purposes," was the popular cry. To add to
the troubles of the City's defeated and discredited
guest, the financial cyclone which was then sweep-
ing the country scattered his fortune.

Few strains in the blood of the human race, except
and CARVER, and their companions, who had framed
the great charter of liberty in the cabin of the May-
flower, could have survived this trial, humiliation


and disaster. But CYRUS FIELD arose from the
wreck of his fortune, his hopes and his reputation,
with sturdier faith and sterner purpose. Forty
times he crossed the seas. Congresses and Parlia-
ments, the Cabinets of Presidents and the Ministers
of the Queen, boards of trade and chambers of com-
merce, the parlors of bankers and the directors'
rooms of banks, the libraries of scientists and the
moss-grown halls of ancient universities, became
familiar with this intrepid and irrepressible enthu-
siast. For eight long years he pursued his quest,
exhibited his maps, submitted his tests, formulated
his calculations and addressed his appeals. There
is no human power which can resist the assaults of a
man of genius, energy and irrevocable purpose, who
believes that he is right and is battling for a great
cause. The great powers of the world, government
and finance, surrendered to CYRUS FIELD in 1866.

The adventures and alarms, the machinery broken
and repaired, the alternate hopes and despair, the
forces of nature in the Atlantic working their
mightiest against the domination of the skill, the
invention, the will and the genius of man on the
Great Eastern during the three weeks while the
cable was paying out from her stern, and on either
side of the ocean nations awaiting the result, pre-


sented a picture unequalled in all the marvellous
stories which have aroused the eloquence, the poetry
and the painting of the centuries in the marches aiid
battles of history.

When I was in Genoa, a year ago, looking upon
that splendid statue of COLUMBUS, which is its chief
monument, I noticed upon the base this inscription :
"There was one world. He said, 'let there be two,'
and there were two." After four centuries Mr.
FIELD, with his cable, had reunited the two worlds,
and in gladness and peace the earth was one.

The first message on MORSE'S telegraph was the
exclamation of wonder and thanksgiving: "What
hath God wrought." The aspiration of the nations,
breathed simultaneously at the eastern and the
western ends of the Atlantic cable, was " Glory to
God on high, and on earth peace and good will
among men."

A happy commentary upon the far reaching influ-
ence and ultimate results of this quick communica-
tion between America and Europe was found among
the first of the messages which flashed across the wire.
This was the announcement of the agreement to
submit the Alabama claims to arbitration. It was
the beginning of that movement for the peace of the
world by which the disputes of nations shall be


settled, not by the arbitrament of arms, but by the
calm procedure of judicial tribunals. No power can
estimate and no language adequately state the
benefits derived from the Atlantic Cable, and the
others which have been subsequently laid, by the
United States and by the Old World. Commerce
has been revolutionized, inter-communication be-
tween the different parts of the earth quickened, and
universal intelligence disseminated. The people
have been benefited in cheaper living, better homes,
higher thinking and broader education ; peace has
been promoted among nations, and the American
Republic has taken its place among the governments
of the world, to both maintain the position in which
WASHINGTON placed it of non interference in the
politics of other continents, and to enforce by the
stern application of the MONKOE doctrine, non-inter-
ference by the governments of other continents in the
politics or the governments of the Americas. Upon
Great Britain and the United States, the mother
country and the great Republic, the result has been
such constant and instantaneous communication,
such close and intimate relations, such a volume of
commercial exchanges, such an interchange of
peoples and of ideas, that while disputes will be im-
possible to avoid and differences must continually

arise, they will always be settled with peace and

The story of nations is contained in multitudes of
volumes and fills libraries, but a few providential
and marvellous events have sown the seeds of
history. In a lifetime of earnest study one could
hardly grasp the details of the rise and fall of
dynasties and kingdoms, of races and peoples, of
politics and parties, of invention and discovery, and
of philosophies and religions. In a broad generaliza-
tion the wonderful development of modern times can
be traced to three eras the Crusades, the discovery
of America and the laying of the Atlantic Cable.

Last Sunday was celebrated at Clermont, in
France, the eight hundredth anniversary of the
preaching of the sermon by PETER the Hermit,
which led to the first Crusade. Europe was then
groaning under the iron heel of the feudal system.
There was no law but the despotic will of the petty
baron, and no protection against his exactions and
the outrages of his army of retainers. The Church
offered refuge, but it was not strong enough to pro-
tect the weak and the many against the armed might
of the few. A pall of ignorance and of superstition
rested upon the western world. This inspired priest
moved alike princes and people to a supreme effort

for the rescue of the holy sepulchre from the grasp of
the infidel. The Crusades broke the strength of the
barons, increased the authority of both the Church
and the State, and brought about that concentration
of power which made possible constitutional govern-
ment and parliamentary liberty. They opened the
way for Runnymede, for Magna Charta, for the
Bill of Rights and for the Declaration of Independ-
ence. The East had all the culture of the world. It
had all the literature, the arts and the sciences, which
existed in that age. It possessed organized com-
merce and enlightened merchants. The contact of
brute force from Europe with this higher civilization
cultivated the paladin and the palmer, and brought
back to Europe a revival of literature, an impulse
for trade, and an ambition for invention and dis-
covery. The Crusades founded the universities
which gave to the middle age its scholars and phi-
losophers. They brought out from the libraries the
hidden treasures of the ancient world, and through
the Greek and Latin authors made possible the
names whose works are part of the treasures of
mankind. To them and their results can be traced
the telescope, the microscope, the compass, and
crowning them all in its beneficent influences, the
printing press. It required four hundred years to


accomplish these results and bring Europe up to
this standard.

Then COLUMBUS wandered from court to court,
pressing upon royal and unwilling ears his belief in
a Western hemisphere. Others had discovered this
continent, but the times were not ripe for the an-
nouncement or the appreciation of the fact. In the
fullness of preparation the imperious and resistless
COLUMBUS compelled audience for his scheme and
fleets for his adventure. The discovery of the New
World became the most important chapter in the
history of the human race. Far beyond its material
advantages in affording homes for the crowded pop-
ulations of the Old World, were the opportunities
which it gave for the development and practice of
civil and religious liberty. Under the benign and
wonder working influences of these principles, this
Republic has flowered and flourished as the home of
the oppressed, as the land of the free, as the exem-
plar of man's opportunities for governing himself,
and as a disseminator of the value and possibility of
liberty around the globe.

The United States of 1854, when these gentlemen
met, were as distinct from the United States of
to-day as 1854 was distant from the time of the
Revolutionary War. They were isolated from


Europe by the trackless ocean, and separated by an
eight days' journey from its shores. This infrequent
and difficult contact with the world promoted pro-
vincialism and protected slavery in our Republic.


Online LibraryNew York. Chamber of commerce of the state of NewThe Atlantic cable projectors. Painting by Daniel Huntington presented to the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, May 23d, 1895, by Morris K. Jesup, Chairman of the Committee, and received by Alexander E. Orr, President of the Chamber → online text (page 1 of 2)