History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

1858 Cable Jubilee at Albany, New York

Introduction: The successful completion of the Atlantic cable in August 1858 resulted in celebrations at many places, most being held on September 1st that year. The most spectacular one was in New York City, but festivities took place all around North America—at San Francisco, Philadelphia, Montreal, Worcester, St Louis, and other places, and in New York State at Adams, Albany, Buffalo, Chittenango, Clyde, Geneva, Lowville, Schenectady, Troy, Watertown, and almost certainly many additional locations.

In New York, beginning on August 21st, Tiffany & Company offered souvenir cable sections made from pieces of the hundred miles of cable which they purchased from the Atlantic Telegraph Company when USS Niagara arrived in New York after the completion of the expedition. Thousands of these souvenirs were sold, each about four inches long and bearing Tiffany’s name on a brass label certifying its authenticity, and a large number of them survive today.

Tiffany also offered the cable in any length to wholesale purchasers, and an enterprising firm of agricultural equipment manufacturers, Emery Brothers in Albany, New York, purchased several hundred feet of the cable, which they displayed in the Cable Jubilee procession held in that city on Wednesday September 1st 1858. This report from The Country Gentleman (Albany, Sept. 9, 1858), entitled “Telegraph Day,” describes the scene:

Emery Brothers opened the Agricultural display by a set of their machines beautifully finished, mounted on a high truck. Attached to this was a line some 700 feet in length, of the genuine Atlantic Cable procured from the surplus brought back by the Niagara, adorned by flags, and carried high in air by a hundred members of the “Albany Ag. Works Association”—the mechanics in the employ of Messrs. Emerys. There were two other trucks with machines from this house.

Reproduced on this page are other contemporary accounts from Albany newspapers of the Telegraph Day or Cable Jubilee; these include detailed descriptions of the Emery Brothers displays in the grand procession.

As part of the celebrations Emery Brothers either sold or gave away three-inch souvenir pieces of the 1858 cable. These have a similar brass label to the Tiffany sections, but with the Emery name and location instead of Tiffany’s. The design and wording of the label indicates that the Emery Brothers sections were also made by Tiffany, but unlike the Tiffany pieces these are quite scarce. One is shown below.

—Bill Burns

Emery Brothers 1858 cable souvenir, about 3" long

Detail of brass label:

Atlantic Telegraph Cable
Guaranteed by
Emery Brothers
52 State St. Albany N.Y. 1858

For comparison, below is a Tiffany label. The font, wording, layout, and style of the Emery Brothers label are very similar to those of the Tiffany version, and it is almost certain that Tiffany made up the souvenir cables for Messrs. Emery.

 


 

Albany Evening Journal, August 31, 1858
[Editor’s note: The newspaper is dated Tuesday Evening, August 31, 1858, but reports on events of Wednesday September 1st, which it refers to as "yesterday".]

THE CABLE JUBILEE
Celebration in Albany!
A Great Day!


Albany has never witnessed so enthusiastic and universal a celebration as that of yesterday. The general turn out to celebrate the opening of the Erie Canal was the nearest approach to it, but even that was eclipsed. It was one of those rare times when men of every opinion and condition can unite in common rejoicing, and its magnificent effects, ingenious devices, and the hearty good will which pervaded all, will long be among the cherished recollections of every Albanian.

During Tuesday the threatening look of the clouds, and an occasional sprinkle of rain created apprehensions that bad weather might, after all, spoil the expected display. But at night the sky cleared off and Wednesday morning opened cloudless, mild and serene. Had it been picked out of all the days of the year, a better one for the jubilee could not have been chosen.

The National Salute awoke the town at sunrise and was speedily followed by that miscellaneous popping of pistols, toy cannon, powder crackers and other small artillery which has heretofore been a distinctive feature of the 4th of July only. The streets soon filled up. Crowds of people from the adjacent country, in every imaginable style of vehicle, and on foot, poured in. From all the distant streets, not “on the line of the procession,” a living tide set towards State street and Broadway, which were densely packed long before the hour for the ceremonies to begin. Unwonted bustle in and about the various establishments, armories and associations rooms attested the “gathering of the clans” and the preparation for the display.

Flags were raised on every mast and flag staff, and hung out of the windows, suspended over the doors, draped among the trees, festooned across the streets. The Stars and Stripes were omnipresent. St. George’s blood-red Cross intertwined with them here and there, and tricolors of every style floated and swung in the breeze. From the Hotels, Public Buildings, Newspaper offices, manufacturing establishments and many private residences, Mottoes were displayed, pithy and appropriate,—some embodying texts of Scripture, others epigrammatic flashes of wit, humor and poetry.

Expectant crowds new swarmed the thoroughfares aid gathered round the assembling places of the Trades and Associations. Windows, door steps and every eligible place for seeing were thronged with occupants, and at length the booming of the signal gun proclaimed that the Procession was about to move. At the same time the bells of all the Churches struck up a joyous peal and continued it during the whole time the Procession was traversing the city.

The Military never appeared to better advantage. The ranks of the several Companies were full; and beside the formal and fatiguing march, they performed escort duty to the various Civic Societies with an alacrity, precision and courtesy which proved them gentlemen as well as soldiers.

The TRADES AND THE CIVIC Societies

The TRADES, with the Military, constituted the most novel and attractive feature of the Procession. As was proper.
 
The TELEGRAPH OPERATORS were given the post of honor. They occupied a four horse truck, and had the Morse, House and  Bain instruments at work over a line extemporised for the occasion. They were greeted every where
on the line with compliments and cheers.

The PRINTERS came next. Chas. Van Beythuisen had three two-horse Platform Trucks. Two of them contained Printing Presses and Binders’ implements. The Presses were a finely preserved old Ramage, an Adams, a Washington and a Ruggles—-all at work printing Odes, &c., for the crowds which constantly surrounded them. The Ramage was the most attractive feature in the Printers’ Department. Weed Parsons & Co., and the Evening Journal establishment had two four-horse Platform Trucks. They were very elegantly decorated, with a red, white, and blue Canopy, festoons, &c., &c., and carried a Hoe Cylinder Press, a Ruggles Press, and the Consecutive Numbering Card Press,—which were all kept at work printing Pamphlets, Odes and Cards appropriated to the occasion—six girls folding the Pamphlets as they came from the Press.

EMERY & BROS. “took down the crowd.” This is universally conceded. Their tastefully adorned Trucks and their magnificent Banners would alone have been enough to place them in the front rank. But they had several hundred feet of the genuine Cable! This was stretched its whole length, the forward and rear ends attached to trucks, and the centre borne upon ingeniously contrived flag-staffs, crossed, bearing the American and English flags, and carried by the hundred workmen in the establishment, dressed uniformly, and preceded by Cook’s Band. Nothing more elegant or appropriate could have been conceived.

WHEELER, MELICK & Co. followed, and made a feature scarcely less grand and attractive. No gentlemen leas liberal and energetic would have undertaken to work a steam engine in procession. They did it successfully, and their small steam whistle elicited a thousand cheers along the line.

JAMES GOOLD & Co.’s display of Carriages, Sleighs, Barouches, Buggies, &c., was a marked feature of the day. This old firm evinced a youthful vigor highly gratifying to its early and life-long friends,

R.K. VIELE’S fifty-two employees; the “Rathbone Guards," numbering 110, from RATHBONE & Co’s furnace; the “Eagle Guards,” 90 in number, from the Eagle furnace of TREADWELL, PERRY & NORTON, and the “Ransom Guards,” numbering 100, from the establishment of RANSOM & Co., in their neat uniforms and manly bearing, excited universal admiration, The Procession would have lost half its attraction without them.

The BUTCHERS, mounted, and the CIGAR MAKERS, uniformed, each in strong force, constituted a fine feature of the line.

The COAL and LUMBER DEALERS exhibited a most creditable spirit. Every firm was represented by proprietors, employees, trucks, carts, and specimens of Coal and Lumber. Their line alone extended near a quarter of a mile.

The individual displays were legion in number and of an elegance unsurpassed by any thing ever before witnessed in this city. They are alluded to elsewhere.
 
The whole affair was highly creditable to the city and to all who participated in it. Every thing was done promptly and pleasantly. No accident marred the festival, and nothing occurred to interrupt the hilarity, good feeling and enthusiasm with which the jubilee began and terminated.

We avail ourselves of the well-prepared report of the Morning Express, of the particulars of the Procession:—

[Editor’s note: To some extent the Morning Express’s report on the Procession duplicates the details above from the Albany Evening Journal. Accordingly, I have reproduced here only those entries which mention cable or telegraph exhibits.]

THE PROCESSION.

Soon after 12 o’clock the procession took up its line of march...

Telegraph Operators in a four horse wagon, containing Morse, House and Bain Instruments. Trucks handsomely decorated with flags,—Around truck miniature Telegraph on poles.


Truck containing paper labeled “C.W. Field & Co., Paper Dealers, New York.”


WAND, PARSONS & Co.—Two Trucks containing Presses in operation, distributing odes to people. Also the fast Card Printing Press, Binders at work, ladies busily engaged in folding, and everything to represent the profession.

These trucks were magnificently decorated with red, white and blue, forming complete canopies, attracting universal attention and eliciting applause on all sides. On them were the following mottoes:—

The PRESS and the TELEGRAPH, the effective agents of living thought.
The first News Message from China—Peace and open doors for the Gospel!
Benjamin Franklin, the Printer, began, what Cyrus W. Field, the Paper Maker, has completed.
  Nerve of the World’s gigantic form
  Quivering with thy mysterious life,
  Speed only feelings pure and warm
  Nor thrill with pain, nor swell with strife.


EMERY BROTHERS.—This renowned establishment eclipsed ail their former efforts on this occasion. They had three trucks in the line, loaded with Agricultural Implements. On the first truck the Atlantic Cable was secured, and run over a pole erected, down to men bearing standards, from which projected American and English flags. On the standards the Cable was supported to the second truck, where it again crossed a pole, and was carried by the employees of the establishment in line. This show occupied full five hundred feet and was decidedly one of the great features of the procession, reflecting great credit on the liberality of the Emerys, and the ingenuity of the indefatigable Horace L. Emery.

The employees of the establishment, numbering one hundred, turned out in black pants, white shirts, black caps and belts, under command of Capt. Wm. Diamond.

The flags for the Emerys were painted by Messrs. Merchant and Winne, both connected with the establishment.


WHEELER, MELICK & Co.—Truck drawn by six horses, three horse steam engine in operation, driving trip hammer, lathes and other machines in operation. On the engine was a whistle which “made music” along the route. This truck attracted very great attention and cheer after cheer was given as it passed along.

Truck with Horse Power and a cart with Agricultural Implements.

On one of the trucks was a banner inscribed as follows:
The Anniversary of the event we celebrate should be a World’s Holiday.


JAS. GOOLD & Co.—Cart with box marked, “Overland Mail Co., San Francisco, Cal.”

Buggy, drawn by one. horse; harness made by M.J. Lloyd.

Barouche, drawn by two horses.

Platform on wagon, drawn by two horses, containing two sleighs.

Barouche, drawn by two horses.

All these vehicles were of the very best style—specimens of workmanship evincing the skill and perfection of the employees of this establishment.

Banner—Albany Coach and Car Factory, Jas. Goold & Co.

Columbus discovered America—Cyrus W. Field wedded to it Europe.


R.K. VIELE.—Two horse wagon, loaded with bedsteads of various sizes—the finest specimens of the productions of this establishment. Wagon appropriately trimmed and ornamented. On the wagon were the following inscriptions:

Orders received by Telegraph;
Goods shipped by steam.
Rest for the weary.


J. BURTON & Co.—Wagon drawn by a tandem team, beautifully decorated with flags, pictures and mirrors. On the wagon was the following:

Who was the noblest, Cyrus the Conqueror of Artaxerxes, or Cyrus the Conqueror of the Atlantic?


E. CORNING & Co.—Truck drawn by six horses, loaded with the Railway Coal Burners. Truck handsomely decorated with the following motto in the centre:

The Continuity is perfect.


W.T. MOUTRIE—Cart, on which was a steam boiler with the following motto:

Prosperity to the Telegraph. We put our shoulders to the wheel and it must move.


WING & MORGAN—As usual, this; firm made “a decided hit.” They turned out a wagon drawn by four horses, wagon and horses covered with mottoes—as follows:

A Field’s begun a field of fun,
A Field of great commotion;
A Field has spun, a Field has run
A Wire across the ocean.
Via Atlantic Telegraph

Liverpool, Sept. 1.
Messrs Wing & Morgan, Albany, N.Y., U.S.A.:—Ship us 1500 bbls. of Julian Mills Flour by first vessel. MILLIGAN & Co.
23 words, £5.4s.
Via Atlantic Telegraph

Albany, Sept. 1.
Messrs. Rothschilds, London, England:—It will be impossible to fill your order for 1000 bbls. Julian Mills Flour, before 15th Sept.
WING & MORGAN.
22 words, $25.60.
Cyrus W. Field,
Atlantic Cable,
Julian Mills.

In the centre of the wagon was a painting representing the shipment of flour to Europe across the Cable—barrels on their way.


K.V.R. LANSINGH—Platform on truck drawn by six horses. On the truck was erected a beautiful canopy of red, white, and blue, profusely trimmed in various ways. On the platform were several of Grover & Baker’s celebrated Sewing Machines, worked by ladies.—The arrangement of this affair was perfect in every particular, and was another •evidence of the taste and ingenuity of Lansingh and his gentlemanly employees. On the truck the following mottoes were displayed:

Franklin, Morse, Field and Grover & Baker. History will extol and prosperity revere them.

Wonders of the 19th Century. The Sewing Machine and the Telegraph.


PETER SMITH’S SONS—Truck on which was a large Brewer’s Copper, and various specimens of Copper and Brass work. Mottoes displayed as follows:

Copper.
The Cable’s heart string!
The electric nerve that connects the brains of the two Nations.


A.H. MICKEL—Two tobacco and segar wagons.

SULLIVAN & SUGDEN— Tobacco and segar wagon.

On Mickel’s wagon was the following motto:

Success to the Atlantic Telegraph and Mickel’s Tobacco.


COAL DEALERS—Putnam & Hoyt, Belknap & McKarcher, Robert Courtney, Leonard & Herrick, G.W. Luther, Phelan & Stuart, James Schuyler, Francis N. Gill, James P. White, M. Young John Carey, Richard Middleton.

These firms all turned out their carts loaded with cold and wood.

On Mr. Young’s cart was the following motto:

Franklin, Morse, and Field. “Yankee Doodle” and “Johnny Bull”—Atlantic Cable Coal


...The procession was one hour! in passing our office, and was, without exception, the most splendid affair of the kind ever witnessed in Albany.

The zeal manifested by the Mechanics of the city, in this display, by turning out en masse and representing the different manufacturing and mechanical interests of our city, is worthy of the highest commendation.

A young man, named Edward C. Wharton, one of the “Noble Jack Tars” that assisted on board the Niagara in laying the Atlantic Cable, . united in the Celebration, joining with Emery Brothers, riding on the Cable wagon.

Mr. Wharton called on us, and in speaking of the expedition paid a high tribute to the skill and ability of Mr. Everett, Chief Engineer of the Niagara. to whose efforts, with those of the other great minds engaged, the two nations are indebted for the electric union effected, after so many mishaps and accidents.

It was after 5 o’clock in the afternoon before the different Companies were dismissed from duty, and as they parted from each other shout after shout was given, indicating the universal joy that prevailed.


THE CITY

Never before, in the history of our city, has there been such a display around the city. Flags, mottoes and transparencies were displayed in many of the principal avenues, and our citizens united together to make the celebration the greatest ever known in this region.

After a hasty tour about the city, we have compiled the following:

The Knickerbocker Office displayed transparency on which was the following:

The Old World and the New—Jonathan connects with Britannia; may the result tend to the propagation of the Universal Brotherhood.

Massord & Hobbs’ store was exquisitely decorated at the entrance. An American and an English Flag were hung in festoons, surmounted at either corner by the American and English Crests. Over the door was the American shield, encircled with evergreens.

The Express Office displayed the following motto:

Now hand in hand, in warm embrace, the Old World and the New,
As bridegroom and as bride rejoice, in wedlock firm and true;
The sea-wave stoops its lofty crest, and kissing either shore,
Consents the sacred tie shall last, till time shall be no more.

The Evening Journal building was beautifully decorated by the Clerks in the Assorting House, and the following motto was displayed:

The Atlantic Cable—the Aurora of Peace and the Sunset of Discord.—Este Perpetua.

Surmounting this was a transparency surmounted with a painting representing “Old Time” stricken by lightning.

In front of Livingston’s restaurant was suspended a large National Ensign.

Steele & Hobbs displayed a large bow kite, inscribed, “Franklin, Morse, C.W. Field, Buck. and Vic.

From the Atlas & Argus building to the Printing establishment of C. Van Benthuysen, was suspended an American Flag with the following Motto:

“Let the Eagle and Lion cherish Peace and be wise.
Till their peace be like that of the stars in the skies.”

Wickes & Co., 385 Broadway, decorated their building with lanterns of varied colors, which were lighted in the evening.

In front of P.M. Stone’s Paper Warehouse was the following:

For persevering effort look to the FIELD of paper dealers.

Suspended from Geo. Wait’s to G.A. Wolverton & Co.’s store was a rope, on either end American colors.

N. Wright & Co., 324 Broadway, displayed the following motto:

Europe and America—United by blood and commerce—now made one by the OCEAN CABLE.

G.W. Fairman, 318 Broadway, displayed an American Ensign, as also did John Wachter, at the National Hotel.

Wm. C. Marshal and J.L. Yates, No. 20 Ferry st., displayed the American Flag, and the building was profusely decorated with streamers, &c.

J.E. Wylie, 299 South Pearl and corner of South Pearl and Division streets, decorated with tri-colors, flags, &c.

T.A. Graves’ Pearl street Hotel, was decorated with flags.

J.W. Arrowsmith displayed the following:

Not unto us, O! Lord, but unto thy name be all the glory.

On the reverse side—

The Continents United.

Over the door of the Alhambra, S. Pearl st.:

MARRIED:
Aug. 16th, 1858, by Rev. C.W. Field, Uncle Sam, of America, to Lady Great Britain.

From Wm. Richardson’s, 60 South Pearl st., was suspended the following:

The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations.

John S. Robbins displayed a large American flag.

Over the entrance to Hartley & Son’s store were American and English flags, and the following motto:

John Bull and Brother Jonathan,
Fraternally united by the Cable,
“They have fought their last battle.”

Messrs. Lochners, No. 10 South Pearl street, displayed a graceful festoon over the door, with the national colors.

Vanderhoff & Doyle, South Pearl st., displayed the letters “V & D” made of gas pipe, which was lighted up last evening.

A.S. Shepard displayed two stars, one within the other, made of gas pipe, which were lighted up last evening.

D.W. Shanks hung tri-colors on festoons across Green street.

G. & S. Robinson, Plumbers, in Beaver street, displayed a flag with the words—“Success to the ——,” and under it, in gas work, stretching across the street, “CABLE” with Anchor at each end.

Stephen, Schreiber, Washington Hall, Green street, displayed the following:

The old and the new world—Mother and Son, through electricity united in one.

Thomas Squires, 161 Lydius street, displayed transparencies on which were the following mottoes:

The Atlantic Telegraph—America conceived it, England made it, and Yankees laid it.
That Cable—What the Yankees don’t know they can learn.
The Atlantic Telegraph—Two Continents of Brokers united—May their “shares” never be less.

J. McBurney, Plain street, displayed a flag and other decorations.

Tivoli Hose House was decorated with a mammoth transparency, on which was the following:

Europe and America—Franklin and Morse—(An Eagle and a Lion’s head)
Huzzah! the Magic Cable’s laid; and now across the Main.
Britannia hails her daughter fair, who answers back again,
With Lightning Dash, through watery depths that roll and ?? between—
Columbia’s President responds to Britain’s smiling Queen.
Surmounting this were three large locomotive reflectors, kindly loaned by E. Corning & Co. for the occasion.

From Congress Hall were suspended the following mottoes:

“The powers that be are ordained of God,”
Franklin, Morse, Field—The clouds spoke to the First, America talks with the Second, and the World with the Third.

W.J. Humphrey & Co., Washington avenue, displayed an American Ensign.

The Brothers Strong, residing on Washington avenue, displayed Chinese Lanterns, locomotive reflectors, &c.

Michael Clark’s restaurant, on Pine street, was handsomely decorated with American Flags.

The Temple of Fancy was richly decorated with flags.

The Delavan House was literally covered with small flags, and on a banner across the street was the following motto:

Delavan House—T. ?? & Son.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt his name together;
O clap your hands, all ye people,
Shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

Dr. N.S. Dean, as usual, went the “whole hog,” displaying a banner 22 by 24 feet, on which was the following motto:

The great work is accomplished.
“Glory to God in the highest.”

Two continents are linked at last
By moorings strong and stable,
And hope’s symbolic anchor now
Is fastened to the cable.

John Bull and Brother Jonathan
Each other ought to greet!
They’ve always been extravagant,
But now “make both ends meet.”

The custom is—for wrong or right—
To practice “sparking” out of sight;
So our Old Buck and England’s daughter,
“Despatch” their business under water!

Our Field has found a remedy:—
As Europe is so slow,
Our continent, impatient, takes
The eastern world in tow.

Ransom’s Building—R.C. Davis & Co. displayed the following motto:

Our Country rejoices in the triumph of her children

The Republican General Committee displayed the following motto:

Make a slave of Lightning, but not of man.

K.V.R. Lansingh’s store, in Broadway, was finely decorated.  The following mottoes were displayed in the windows:

The New and Old World join hands.
The Lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West.
England and America, bound by electric bonds.
Many shall run to and fro, and Knowledge shall be increased.
Can’st man command the Lightnings!  Franklin chained, Morse tamed, Field observed them.

All the Fire Department Houses were beautifully and tastefully decorated.

George Stevens, corner Bleecker Place and West Ferry streets displayed the following mottoes:

THE CABLE THAT BINDS
A KINDRED PEOPLE:
MAY IT NEVER BE BROKEN.

Old Neptune at last
To Science must yield—
His Empire is conquered
By a Bright and a Field.

Let the Eagle scream,
And the Lion roar—
The Lightning strikes
From shore to shore.

On Ocean’s bed securely rests
A simple coil of wire;
Yet a few taps at either end
Might set the World on fire.

No clash of arms
With sword or shield—
The Victory’s won
By Cyrus Field.

On the front of Mr. Stevens’ store was the following, surmounted by a piece of cable some three feet long, handsomely ferruled at each end:

Honor to the Nations whose Genius invented, and whose enterprise completed the Ocean Cable.

We have endeavored to notice all our citizens who displayed mottoes, but we feel quite certain that we have omitted some.  However, we must claim the indulgence of those who have been overlooked, as our labors were really burdensome, yesterday, and we found it impossible to be ubiquitous.

Thousands of small American Flags were displayed around the city, on public and private buildings, and may were ornamented in various ways, attracting great attention from the immense crowds that thronged every avenue.


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