For more than ten years practically every U.S. citizen who has thought about it at all has believed that the only way to make economic sense out of the U.S. telegraph industry was to turn it into a monopoly. Yet during all those years Western Union and Postal Telegraph have continued wasteful (and, for Postal, downright suicidal) competition with each other. At the same time they have had to buck increasing competition from the telephone, the teletype and air mail.

Main reason for this economic nonsense is that, under anti-trust laws, a telegraph merger is illegal unless specifically authorized by...

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