Enterprise Stage 2: Success

A high-profile inquiry sponsored by the British Parliament (which was also concerned about failure of another cable being laid down the Red Sea towards India) lent support by showing that better attention to detail would solve the problems. In 1865 new cable was loaded on the Great Eastern, a converted passenger liner. Two-thirds of the way across the ocean the cable broke. But confidence was high. Money was easily raised to manufacture more cable--and to improve grapnel techniques. An attempt in 1866 was flawless. Then the Great Eastern went back to retrieve and repair the 1865 cable. Two lines assured trans-Atlantic communications.

Friend and investor Peter Cooper described the public reaction: “Your telegram of the 4th inst from the Great Eastern was received about noon the same day giving joy to thousands....”

[Broadsheet on the Atlantic cable, 1866.]

Field’s press release (left) describing success in 1866 led to further celebrations and cemented his personal fame. Later, the U.S. Congress expressed its thanks to Field, “for his foresight, courage and determination in establishing telegraphic communications by means of the Atlantic cable.”

These eyewitness illustrations by artist Robert Dudley, depict activities aboard the Great Eastern during the 1865 cable voyage.

Above: “Searching for fault after recovery of the cable from the bed of the Atlantic July 31.”

Below: "Interior of one of the tanks on board the Great Eastern, cable passing out."