Paul Julius, Baron De Reuter - Encyclopedia

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PAUL JULIUS REUTER, BARON DE (1821-1899), founder of Reuter's News Agency, was born at Cassel, Germany. At the age of thirteen he became a clerk in his uncle's bank at Gottingen, where he chanced to make the acquaintance of Professor Gauss, whose experiments in telegraphy were then attracting some attention. Reuter's mind was thus directed to the value of the speedy transmission of information, and in 1849, on the completion of the first telegraph lines in Germany and France, he found an opportunity of turning his ideas to account. There was a gap between the termination of the German line at Aixla-Chapelle and that of the French and Belgian lines at Verviers. Reuter organized a news-collecting agency at each of these places, his wife being in charge of one, himself at the other, and bridged the interval by a pigeon-post. On the establishment of through telegraphic communication, Reuter endeavoured to start a news agency in Paris, but finding that the French government's restrictions would render the scheme unworkable, removed in 1851 to England and became a naturalized British subject. The first submarine cable - between Dover and Calais - had just been laid, and Reuter opened an office in London for the transmission of intelligence between England and the continent. At first, however, his business was practically confined to the transmission of private commercial telegrams to places not connected with the new telegraph system. He appointed agents at the various telegraph termini on the continent to take these despatches off the wires and forward them by rail or pigeon-post to the addresses. Simultaneously he endeavoured to induce the English papers to publish the foreign news telegrams supplied by his various agents. These efforts were for some years unsuccessful, until in 1858 The Times published the report of an important speech by Napoleon III. forwarded by Reuter's Paris agent. Reuter now extended his sphere of operations all over the world, and in 1859 obtained leave for the presence of representatives at the headquarters of the Austrian and French armies during the war. In 1866 he laid down a special cable from Cork to Crookhaven, which enabled him to circulate news of the American Civil War several hours before the steamer could reach Liverpool. A concession for a cable beneath the North Sea to Cuxhaven was granted him by the king of Hanover in 1865, and in the same year a concession was granted him for a cable between France and the United States, the line being worked jointly by Reuter (whose business had just been converted into a limited liability company) and the Anglo-American Telegraph Company. In 1872 he obtained from the shah of Persia an exclusive concession to develop the internal resources of that country, but the concession was annulled and its privileges transferred to the Imperial Bank of Persia. Reuter was in 1871 given the title of baron by the duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and by a special grant of Queen Victoria he and his heirs were authorized to have the privileges of this rank in England. Baron Reuter died at Nice on the 25th of February 1899.

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