Thanks to the Historic Restoration Society of Annapolis County|
which provided a copy of the above article.
Note by ICS (written 13 March 2002):
I believe that Murille Schofield – while researching his above
article in 1973 – may have been misled by the following item, which
appeared in the Halifax Novascotian on March 12th, 1849:
Halifax, Monday, March 12th, 1849
This item has the facts badly muddled. Its description of what|
D.H. Craig was doing closely matches what, in fact, J.T. Smith
was doing (employed by private individuals—speculators).
And its description of what J.T. Smith was doing closely
matches what, in fact, D.H. Craig was doing (engaged by the
combined press of New York and Boston).
At this very late date – 153 years after these events occurred –
we cannot question anyone who was there at the time. We cannot
even question the editor of the Novascotian about where he got
this information. All we can do is sift through the existing
historical record and try to figure out what really happened.
Numerous contemporary authoritative historical sources report
that Craig, not Smith, was working for the Associated Press.
One example: the New Brunswick Courier, 24 February 1849:
A little after eight o'clock on Thursday evening last, the steamer
Commodore, Capt. Brown, arrived from Digby Basin, bringing
Mr. Craig, an American gentleman, who had undertaken on behalf
of the Associated Press of Boston and New York to express the
news by the Steamer Europa, from Halifax to Saint John,
and thence by Electric Telegraph to Boston and New York...
Also, we have this description of the situation, signed by nine of the
most powerful and influential men in New York's newspaper business
of that time:
New York, January 24, 1850: — ...That the public may not be misled in
this matter, the Associated Press deem it proper to make the following
statement of facts ... About January 1849, the New York newspapers
Journal of Commerce, Courier and Enquirer, Herald, Sun, Tribune, and
Express, through their Committee, in an interview with Mr. L.R. Darrow,
the Superintendent of the new Saint John Electric Telegraph Line, then
nearly finished, arranged to run an express, on the arrival of each
Cunard Royal Mail steamer at Halifax, from that point to Saint John,
New Brunswick, the eastern terminus of the Telegraph at that time,
on condition of having the privilege of transmitting a despatch of
three thousand words to Boston and New York ... There were two
competitors for the agency; and the 'superior activity' of the man,
and the recommendation of two or three editors in Boston, in the
Association, induced us to employ Mr. Craig, the present agent...
Gerard Hallock, New York Journal of Commerce
Horace Greeley & Thomas McElrath, New York Tribune
George H. Andrews, New York Courier & Enquirer
Moses S. Beach and Alfred E. Beach, New York Sun
James Brooks & Erastus Brooks, New York Express
James Gordon Bennett, New York Herald
New York, January 24, 1850
Another contemporary source, both authoritative and well informed,
is the book Historical Sketch of the Electric Telegraph, by
Alexander Jones, published by George E. Putnam, New York, in 1852.
Dr. Jones was the first general manager of the New York Associated
Press, and knew more about what went on in the early years of the AP
than anyone else. His book, on page 140, has this:
...The vexations endured by the Associated Press management in the
early days (1849-1850) were aggravated by dissentions which grew up
between the managers of some of the Morse telegraph lines and the
press. There were also contentions between the members of the press
in Boston and other places, fanned if not engendered by the jealousies
of some of the Morse lines, and especially by those under the control
of F.O.J. Smith (not to be confused with J.T.Smith). This gentleman
refused to have steamers' news come over his line from Halifax, for
the Associated Press, unless they dismissed Mr. Craig, then acting as
their Halifax agent. This led to a rupture, by which the press of Boston
became divided. The Association retained Mr. Craig, and ran a special
locomotive express at an enormous expense with each steamer's news,
from Portland to Boston, there being no telegraph between these two
points except that owned by Smith. From Boston it came over by the
Bain line to New York. The Association also, by its encouragement,
caused a company to extend the Bain line from Boston to Portland,
where it connected with the lines extending thence to Halifax, and
which were beyond the control of Smith. The war was a very fierce one;
many phamphlets appeared on both sides, including one by Mr. Craig
in his defence against Smith's charges. The latter left no stone
unturned. Among other efforts to thwart the Association, it is said
that he endeavored to get control of one of the links on the Halifax
line east of Portland. He also appealed to the Provincial Legislature
of New Brunswick, and protested against the management of the
Halifax line by its superintendent; but all without avail ...
At one time Smith refused to receive and transmit private messages
handed in by merchants and others for Halifax, or to let anything
come over his line from Halifax...
There are other contemporary reports which agree that Daniel
Craig organized and managed the Associated Press express of
1849. Except for the item above, I know of no source that supports
the notion that J.T. Smith was working for the Associated Press
in any important capacity.
I doubt that Mr. Schofield, working in Nova Scotia in
the early 1970s, had access to any of these three sources.
One is led to speculate where this erroneous report came from.
Was this just a case of a reporter getting his facts wrong (which
is not unheard-of in our time)?
Or is this something more? Maybe the Novascotian's item was the
result of calculated disinformation, put out by someone associated
with the speculators, perhaps to cloud Craig's reputation?
From the speculators' point of view, Craig was a nuisance who
insisted on ethical standards in the operation of his international
communications system, and this high standard seriously interfered
with the speculators' hopes of making a lot of money by getting
important information before it became available to the public.
If they could somehow destroy Craig's reputation and have him
replaced with a more compliant manager, they could quickly make
a lot of money.
I doubt we can answer these questions now. It is clear that the
Novascotian's editor in 1849 had no interest in Craig's express
service for New York newspapers. One example of this lack of
interest is the item in question – not written by someone in
Halifax, but simply copied from a distant newspaper.
When a report like this disagrees, in an important way, with
credible information published elsewhere about the 1849 express,
my view is that we should be cautious about how much weight
we give to the Halifax source.
ICS (March 2002)
The Oregon Boundary Dispute was a hot topic during 1849. This dispute
has nothing to do with the Nova Scotia Pony Express story, except as
a vivid illustration of the importance of some of the information it carried.
In the 1844 United States Presidential Election,
the Democratic platform claimed the entire Oregon area,
from the California boundary northward to a latitude
of 54° 40', the southern boundary of Russian Alaska.
This claim included all of present-day British Columbia.
In 1849, the Oregon Boundary dispute remained unsettled.
In 1849, there was a serious threat of war between Great Britain and the
United States over the Oregon Boundary question.
The excerpts below are included here to enable the reader to get a feeling of
the serious nature of this dispute. Some of the mail bags carried by Cunard's
Royal mail Steamships in 1849, both westbound and eastbound, contained
highly confidential diplomatic messages between London and Washington,
conveying veiled threats of a most serious nature. George Mullane's article
about the 1849 situation uses direct language: "...international crisis..." and
"...England's ultimatum..." which accurately conveys the temper of the times.
More about the Oregon Boundary Dispute
Canadians and Americans tend to recall the Oregon Treaty in distinctly different ways. In this case and in virtually every other, how one interprets the past depends in large part upon where one is viewing it from.
More About the
The 1849 Nova Scotia Pony Express
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