Chapter 17. Seward's Other Folly: America's First Encrypted Cable

On the early morning of 26 November 1866, before the American minister to France, John Bigelow, was out of bed, a secret encrypted cable from Secretary of State William Seward began arriving in the Paris telegraph office. The dispatch's last installment was completed at 4:30 the following afternoon. "I immediately discerned," wrote Bigelow, "that it was written more for the edification of Congress than for mine, for Mr. Seward knew full well at the moment of writing it that the Emperor [of France] and his Cabinet were all more anxious than any citizen of the United States to hasten the recall of their troops from Mexico, and that they were doing everything that was possible to that ...

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