Although Alfred Vail had severed his active connection with the telegraph, he and his brother George still owned stock in the various lines, and Morse did all in his power to safeguard and further their interests. They, on their part, were always zealous in championing the rights of the inventor, as the following letter from George Vail, dated December 19, 1849, will show:—
“Enclosed I hand you a paragraph cut from the ‘Newark Daily’ of 17th inst. It was evidently drawn out by a letter which I addressed to the editor some months ago, stating that I could not see what consistency there was in his course; that, while he was assuming the championship of American manufactures, ingenuity, enterprise, etc., etc., he was at the same time holding up an English inventor to praise, while he held all the better claims of Morse in the dark,—alluding to his bespattering Mr. Bain and O’Reilly with compliments at our expense, etc.
“I would now suggest that, if you are willing, we give Mr. Daily a temperate article on the rise and progress of telegraphs, asserting claims for yourself, and, as I must father the article, give the Vails and New Jersey all the ‘sodder’ they are entitled to, and a little more, if you can spare it.
“Will you write something adapted to the case and forward it to me as early as possible, that it may go in on the heels of this paragraph enclosed?”
F.O.J. Smith continued to embarrass and thwart the other proprietors by his various wild schemes for self-aggrandizement. As Mr. Kendall said in a letter of August 4: “There is much Fog in Smith’s letter, but it is nothing else.”
And on December 4, he writes in a more serious vein: “Mr. Smith peremptorily refuses an arbitration which shall embrace a separation of all our interests, and I think it inexpedient to have any other. He is so utterly unprincipled and selfish that we can expect nothing but renewed impositions as long as we have any connection with him. He asks me to make a proposition to buy or sell, which I have delayed doing, because I know that nothing good can come of it; but I have informed him that I will consider any proposition he may make, if not too absurd to deserve it. I do not expect any that we can accede to without sacrifices to this worse than patent pirate which I am not prepared to make.”
Mr. Kendall then concludes that the only recourse will be to the law, but Morse, always averse to war, and preferring to exhaust every effort to bring about an amicable adjustment of difficulties, sent the following courteous letter to Smith on December 8, which, however, failed of the desired result:—
“I deeply regret to learn from my agent, Mr. Kendall, that an unpleasant collision is likely to take place between your interest in the Telegraph and the rest of your coproprietors in the patent. I had hoped that an amicable arbitrament might arrange all our mutual interests to our mutual advantage and satisfaction; but I learn that his proposition to that effect has been rejected by you.