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Telegraph in United Kingdom

Meaning of Telegraph

The following is an old definition of Telegraph [1]: v. To write afar off or at a distance. A wire or wires used for the purpose of telegraphic communication, with any casing, coating, tube, or pipe inclosing the same, and any apparatus connected therewith for the purpose of such communication. Includes any apparatus for transmitting messages or other communications by means of electric signals. See Cable.Telegram. Any message or other communication transmitted or intended for transmission by telegraph. Morse was the first and original inventor of the electro-magnetic telegraph, for which a patent was issued to him in 1840, and re-issued in 1848. His invention was prior, as well as superior, to those of Steinhiel of Munich, and Wheatstone and Davy of England. Though in some respects a telegraph company is like a common carrier, it is not strictly a common carrier, nor is it held to the same degree of responsibility. A common carrier is an insurer; a telegraph company is held only to a reasonable degree of care and diligence, in proportion to the degree of responsibility. Since telegraph companies undertake to exercise a public employment, in many respects analogous to that of a common carrier, they must bring to the employment that degree of skill and care which a prudent man, under the circumstances, would exercise in his own affairs; and any stipulation intended to relieve them from this duty, or to restrict their liability for its non-use, is forbidden by the demands of sound public policy. A telegraph company, by express contract or by reasonable rules contained in a printed notice so brought to the knowledge of a patron as to create an implied contract, may limit its liability for delay or error in transmitting and delivering a message, except as to such delay or error as is caused by its own misconduct or gross want of care. Most of the rules and regulations embodied in the printed blanks for messages have been upheld by the courts as reasonable requirements. While the contract for a message is made only with the sender, companies have been held liable to receivers who have been misled to their damage by negligence in the companies’ servants. When a message is sent over a connecting line, the same principles are applied as in the case of common carriers of merchandise. A company cannot protect itself against gross negligence or incompetency in its employees, or as against a remediable imperfection in its instruments. It must receive all messages offered, except such as are illegal or immoral in character, unreasonably lengthy, or in disregard of reasonable rules; and must send them in the order in which they are received, preference being given to government messages. Every message is to be sent as written; if illegible, it may be refused. Liability for negligence extends to the natural and immediate consequences only. In Dryburg’s case, the message, as sent from New York city, read ” Send two hand bouquets, very hand same, one of five, one of ten dollars.” As received in Philadelphia it read: “Send two hundred bouquets,” etc. Before the error was discovered, Dryburg, a florist, had cut flowers to the amount of one himdred dollars, as a jury found. A telegram, like a letter, may constitute au admission, and complete a contract. To charge the sender the original draft must be produced. The sending operator m ay be called to prove the sender’s presence. The company or operator may be compelled to disclose the contents of a dispatch, unless a statute provides otherwise. An accepted telegram is a sufficient memorandum within Statute of Frauds. Congress may regulate communication by telegraph between the States. And where a State has given exclusive privileges to one company, which would preclude free intercourse, Congress, under the powers “to regulate commerce ” and “to establish post-offices and post-roads,” may provide for the construction of competing lines. See Commerce. A telegraph company holds the same relation to commerce as a carrier of messages that’ a railroad company holds as a carrier of goods. Both companies are instruments of commerce, and their business is commerce itself. Fnom their essentially different characteristics, the regulations suitable for one of these kinds of commerce would be inapplicable to the other. Within the reservation that it does not encroach upon the exercise of the powers vested in Congress, a, State may make such provisions in respect to the buildings, poles and wires of the companies within its jurisdiction as the comfort and convenience of the community may require. Any telegraph company organized under the laws of any State, shall have the right to construct, maintain, and operate lines through and over any portion of the public domain, over and along any military or post-road, and over, under, or across the navigable streams or waters of the United States; the lines not to obstruct navigation, or interfere with ordinary travel. Acceptance of that provision, as far as government business is concerned, makes the company agent of the United States. But the privilege conferred does not involve exemption from the ordinary burdens of taxation in a State within which a company may own or operate lines. A railroad being a post-road that act of 1866 is paramount over any agreement for the exclusive use of a road by one company. A State may not tax inter-State messages: they are commerce, as well as in the nature of postal service, and exempt from State regulations, except as to regulations of a strictly police character. Any regulation by way of a tax upon the occupation or business of transmitting messages between different States, or as a license to transact business, is unconstitutional. Nor may a State tax a company’s receipts from inter-State messages. Whether the poles, wires, and instruments are part of the realty to which they are annexed, depends upon the intent with which they were erected. A city may determine the conditions upon which a company shall pass through its limits. After expiration of the time for erecting poles, etc., in pursuance of an ordinance, express direction from the city coun- cil, and notice to the company, should be given, before the mayor proceeds to remove the poles. It is no part of the corporate duty of a company to collect and send out market reports. s to the use of the public domain and materials, the priority of Government messages, and the purchase of lines by the Government, see at length R. S. tit. LXV, §§ 5263-09.

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Notes and References

  1. Concept of Telegraph provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889) (Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims and an Exposition of the Principles of Law: Comprising a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence; William C. Anderson; T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, Chicago, United States)


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(2017, 01). Telegraph lawi.org.uk Retrieved 06, 2021, from https://lawi.org.uk/telegraph/

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"Telegraph" lawi.org.uk. lawi.org.uk, 01 2017. Web. 06 2021. <https://lawi.org.uk/telegraph/>

"Telegraph" lawi.org.uk. 01, 2017. Accesed 06 2021. https://lawi.org.uk/telegraph/

Anthony J. Bland, 'Telegraph' (lawi.org.uk 2017) <https://lawi.org.uk/telegraph/> accesed 2021 June 16

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Telegraph
  • Author: Anthony J. Bland
  • Description: Meaning of Telegraph The following is an old definition of Telegraph [1]: v. To write afar off or at a distance. A wire or [...]

This entry was last updated: January 13, 2017

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