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Critchfield, H. D.
Printed Circular Letter, Signed, for The Independent Telephone Association of the United States of America, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Jan. 1, 1898

quarto, three pages, sending a membership application to J. W. Richard, Wadsworth, Ohio. Includes a printed Constitution of the newly established Independent Telephone Association of the United States of America, Adopted at Detroit, June 23, 1897. (Columbus, Ohio, ca. 1898, 12mo, 12 pp., original blue printed wrappers, with original mailing envelope.

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Critchfield writes in the letter: "... the American Bell Telephone Company has brought two suits on the Berliner patent and has been and is threatening to bring many others against owners and operators of Independent exchanges... Bell Telephone... is a thoroughly organized and powerful corporation... they have been preparing for this day (the time when their right to a monopoly of the telephone business would be questioned) ever since their organization in the 70s ... [so that] when opposition sprang up they would be in the best condition to combat and crush it out of existence... The Independent Telephone Association of the United States ... has retained... able counsel... and practical and theoretical telephone experts ... to take up the defense of suits which may be brought against any member of the Association ... meeting a powerful enemy with its own weapons ... by joining our forces, raising the necessary funds to prepare and fight such cases... the danger ... is great and imminent ... a systematic and thorough effort has been made by the Bell Company to prolong its existence and if all is not done ... to defeat their claims they will continue to enjoy the monopoly of the telephone business in the future as they have in the past ..."
In 1901, a federal court would declare Emile Berliner's telephone transmitter patent, acquired  by Bell Telephone, to be void, giving smaller independent phone companies the opportunity by 1905 to acquire more subscribers than Bell nationally. Nevertheless, Bell and its successor, AT&T, would continue to retain the image - and economic reality - of a powerful monopoly.
Crticfield was a lawyer who later became General Counsel of the national Independent Telephone Association and, ten years after he wrote this letter, won a victory when he defeted the effort of the Chicago Bell Company to buy out the phone lines of its only rival, the company that built Chicago's underground railway freight tunnel system. He gave up the fight to join an electrical company during World War I, but, remarkably, his organization still exists- renamed, in 1999, the United States Telecom Association, now a trade group that represents a conglomeration of wireless, internet, and cable television companies - and tiny small town telephone co-ops, still battling to survive against AT&T.