Atlantic Cable

In the 1850s the Telegraph Companies of New York, Newfoundland and London and the British Transatlantic Submarine Telegraph Company signed a contract on building up a transatlantic cable connection. In order to span the Atlantic they needed an amount of cable so great that it could not be carried on a single ship. They decided to operate with two ships, meeting at the central point. The British and the American governments each offered one of their biggest military vessels. On August 5, 1857 the project was started at Valencia Island (Ireland) and Saint John’s (Newfoundland); but already on August 11 the cable broke and the project had to be cancelled. On June 10, 1858, they tried again, but this time a storm thwarted their efforts. On July 17, 1858 the ships set sail for a third time, and on August 5, 1858 – one year after the first attempt – each of them could see their own territory. The connection between old and new world had been established. The London Times covered the achievement in terms of great excitement, comparing the success of the project with the travels of Christopher Columbus. Queen Victoria was the first to send a telegraphic message to the President of the US in Washington. However, on October 20, 1858, the connection broke after only a few hundred messages had been exchanged. In 1866 another Atlantic Cable was laid and the Telegraphic business started again.