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Jeptha Homer Wade (American National Biography)

Scholarship
Edward L. Lach, Jr., "Wade, Jeptha Homer," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/10/10-01692.html.
Wade entered the telegraph industry at a time when it was suffering from serious overconstruction, cutthroat competition, and intense and personal rivalries among the leading figures. As president of the Cleveland & Cincinnati Telegraph Company, he urged consolidation as the only rational solution to the industry's problems as early as 1852. While many other industry leaders, including Royal E. House, Ezra Cornell, and Henry O'Rielly, agreed with Wade in principle, the pursuit of individual advantage made the process a slow one. House and Wade consolidated their lines in 1854, with Wade serving as the new firm's general agent. The trend toward consolidation within the industry accelerated, and upon the formation in 1856 of the Western Union Telegraph Company, Wade served as its general agent as well.

Possessing a reputation for diplomacy as well as sound line construction, Wade was sent by Western Union to California in the fall of 1860. There he negotiated a merger between four rival firms as the California State Telegraph Company. With a federal subsidy in hand and a transcontinental telegraph line as the goal, the California State organized the Overland Telegraph Company to construct the line between Carson City, Nevada, and Salt Lake City, Utah; Western Union followed suit by organizing the Pacific Telegraph Company (with Wade as president) to construct the line between Omaha, Nebraska, and Salt Lake City. Upon the line's completion in October 1861, enormous profits soon accrued to Western Union, and Wade was promoted to general manager.
How to Cite This Page: "Jeptha Homer Wade (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/25532.