Publication: Electrical Review
New York, NY, United States
A Suit to Declare Forfeit the Property
of the Combined Telegraph
Attorney-General Kirkpatrick began suit against the Western Union Telegraph Company, the Baltimore and Ohio Telegraph Company, and the Baltimore and Ohio Telegraph Company of Pennsylvania for an alleged violation of the constitution and the laws of the State of Pennsylvania. The proceedings is in the nature of a writ of quo warranto applied for to the court. The attorney-general sets forth that the Western Union Company on October 5,1887, in violation of the constitution of Pennsylvania, purchased the entire stock and thereby a controlling interest of the Baltimore and Ohio Telegraph Company; that the Baltimore and Ohio Telegraph Company was a competing line in this State with the Western Union, and that its stock, line and franchise were by reason of the sale forfeited to the State. For the same reasons the attorney-general claims a decree of forfeiture and escheat of the line, property and franchises of the Western Union Company in the State. The attorney-general also claims a forfeiture of the line, franchise and property of the Baltimore and Ohio Telegraph Company of Pennsylvania because of such purchase and consolidation. After reciting the facts the attorney-general suggests that the court award a writ of quo warranto commanding the sheriff of Philadelphia county to summon the Western Union Company, the Baltimore and Ohio Company, and the Baltimore and Ohio Company of Pennsylvania, before the court to show by what authority they claim to have and use their franchises, rights and privilege, and why the same should not be decreed to be escheated and forfeited to the State. Judge Simonton at once granted the writ, making it returnable on January 29. It is learned that this action on the part of the attorney-general was not instigated by anybody, but was of his own free will and accord. It was thought at one time that the recent triumph of the Garrett people in the election of a president had something to do with it, but this is disclaimed. Over a year ago the attorney-general would have moved in the matter if he had been in possession of the proof, and the delay in the movement, it is understood, was solely because he was engaged in securing testimony in proof of his allegations. The paper containing the specific charges has been prepared, but at present it is not deemed prudent to make it public.