THOMAS ECKERT. ALS: "Yours very truly,/Thos T. Eckert", 1p,
7½x9½. New York, 1881 July 12. On sheet headed "Western Union Telegraph
Company" to Professor J.E. Hilgard, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Office,
Washington, D.C. Begins: "My dear Sir". In full: "I
have to thank you for the receipt of the charts of the West Indies and of the
coast of Brazil to Pernambuco, which [you] have so kindly sent to me.
Please permit me to express the many obligations your attention in this matter
has placed me under; and if I can serve you in any way, pray command me."
Pernambuco is a northeastern state of Brazil. Its capital, Recife, is a
port city, so it may have been included on Hilgard's charts. THOMAS THOMPSON
ECKERT (1825-1910) had supervised the construction of the
Pittsburgh-Chicago telegraph line in 1852. During the Civil War, he took
charge of the military telegraph office at General McClellan's headquarters,
becoming superintendent of the military telegraph with the rank of
Captain and Assistant Quartermaster in 1862. In September of that year, Eckert
was called to Washington, D.C. to establish the military telegraph in War
Department buildings and was promoted to Major. During this time, he became
close friends with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M.
Stanton. In 1864, the year he was brevetted Lieutenant General (he later was
promoted to Brigadier General), Eckert was appointed Assistant Secretary of
War under Stanton, remaining in the office until 1866, when he resigned to
be come General Superintendent of Western Union Telegraph Company's eastern
lines. In 1875, he became President of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph
Company, and, in 1880, President of the American Union Telegraph
Company. In 1881, when these companies consolidated with Western Union,
he became Vice President and General Manager of the company. Eckert became
President in 1893 and Chairman of the Board in 1900. Bavarian-born
scientist JULIUS ERASMUS HILGARD (1825-1891), a civil engineer who had
come to the U.S. with his scientist father, Theodore Erasmus Hilgard, in 1835,
was appointed Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Office in
the year of this letter upon the death of Alexander D. Bache. Hilgard had
worked in Bache's coastal surveys from 1845, rising to the office of assistant
in charge of the bureau in Washington. He also had charge of the development and
verification of standards of weights and measures, and was a delegate to the
Internal Metric Commission that met in Paris in 1872. That year, Hilgard
had executed a telegraphic determination of the longitude between Paris and
Greenwich, correcting the value by nearly half a second. A charter member of
the National Academy of Sciences, he was elected President of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science (1874). Lightly creased
with folds. Slightly soiled. Tape stain at lower margin at vertical fold touches
the initial "T." Tape stains at lower margin, left margin at mid-horizontal
fold, blank right margin, upper margin and at 1 line of text touch 2 words.
Upper and lower right corners torn off. ¼x¾-inch paper loss at upper left blank
edge. Overall, fine condition.
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