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Carleton, F.
Autograph Letter Signed, Liverpool, England, June 1, 1840 to Jacob Harvey, New York, concerning Transatlantic Steam Ship Travel

quarto, 4 pages, written on the letterhead of the Transatlantic Steam Ship Company, Liverpool, the letter was sent via the Great Western, in very good, clean and legible condition.

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Detailed letter discussing various aspects of early transatlantic steam ship travel:


“Transatlantic Steam Ship Company, 24 Water Street, Liverpool, 1 June 1840


My dear Sir


Your two favors of 16 April and 8 May are before me and I regret that the present will tend to corroborate your apprehensions with regard to the abandonment of the New York line by this Company. We have not received an official acceptance of our tender but we have reason to expect that with some minor exceptions it has been approved of. Mr. McGregor Laird also bid for this contract and if reports say true he was authorized to offer the President & British Queen.

The sum we have asked will nearly pay all the actual expenses of working the ships for 12 voyages annually, and goods & passengers are expected fully to pay all the wear & tear and Insurance leaving good expectations for our Proprietors, who have been a very dissatisfied party for a long time. –

Our first false step as you justly say was the purchase of the Liverpool – a truly unfortunate measure, and it is now unnecessary to ask whose fault it was – It will suffice to say that there was experience and judgment amply sufficient in the old establishment to have guarded us against such a fatal act, but they seemed to forsake on that occasion, those who were looked to as Oracles in such matters and we all fell into the scrape together.

With regard to coals you will I know do the best you can to save us from loss: keep our interests in your recollection as much as usual and we shall be satisfied. I will take your hint about applying to the other Cos. Your brother mentioned that I had some communication with one of the French Agents regarding your house. I need only assure you that I shall strain every nerve to influence M. Guillon if so doing can be of service to you. That gentleman says he is connected with the Government of France in promoting their views with regard to the extension of Steam Navigation – He may boast more of his influence than I would feel justified in relying on without further knowledge of him. He is a clever man of business. It is confidently rumored that the French are determined to have powerful Steamers from Havre, Bordeaux & Marseilles to the States, and four from each are spoken of.

When I wrote you last February your brother James was aware of all that was on the tapis and I expect he would have felt himself at liberty to mention it [of] course there were various rumours circulated but no real truth in any. I wish with all my heart we could have sold the Liverpool.  I wd not then have recommended giving up the N York line. I was under an honorable pledge not to mention the nature of our negotiations except to my Co-Directors and even some of them were in the dark in feby last. Pollock knew nothing about it except from common rumor.

As regards steaming to N. York with my present experience I would not apprehend the result if we coluld command £ 150,000 Capital to get two first rates: I feel almost certain that with good management they would pay at present rates. …


2d June – Since writing this letter yesterday I have received a letter from the Admiralty agreeing to our tender: the service will I believe commence 1 Septr so that all hopes of a trip to New York for the present are I am sorry to say gone. The George Co have lately met a severe loss in one of their largest vessels the Vulture, valued at £ 35,000 uninsured – They made tenders for the Alexandria service and this vessel was one that was offered.”