Congressman Vito J. Fossella
| 13th Congressional District of New York
Staten Island & Brooklyn
|1239 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
4434 Amboy Road
Staten Island, NY 10312
9818 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2002
|Contact: Craig Donner (718) 356-5039
Beeper: (800) 815-2171
Rep. Fossella's Resolution Honoring
True Inventor of Telephone To Pass House Tonight
Antonio Meucci Receives Recognition 113
Years After His Death
Staten Island, NY -- While history text books laud Alexander
Graham Bell for inventing the telephone, it was actually a little-known Italian
immigrant from Milan who developed the prototype years before.
Antonio Meucci never received the recognition he deserved
during his lifetime, but this evening – 113 years after his death – the House
of Representatives is expected to pass a Resolution honoring his contributions
and recognizing him as the true inventor of the telephone. The Resolution was
authored by Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13).
"Antonio Meucci was a man of vision whose enormous talents
led to the invention of the telephone," Fossella said. "Meucci began work on
his invention in the mid-1880s, refining and perfecting the telephone during
his many years living on Staten Island. His struggles, accomplishments and life
personify the true concept of the American dream. And while he did not receive
the recognition he deserved during his incredible life, his time has finally
come. The U.S. Supreme Court acted appropriately during Mr. Meucci's lifetime,
and Congress has acted appropriately today."
Responsible scholarship has shown that the invention of what
we know today as the telephone likely took place closer to the middle of the 19th
century than its end, when Alexander Graham Bell received his patent. For instance,
it is known that Meucci demonstrated his device in 1860, that a description appeared
in New York's Italian language newspaper and that Western Union received working
models from Meucci but reportedly lost them.
A man of limited means, Meucci was unable to obtain a patten
for his invention, instead settling for a one-year renewable notice of an impending
patent, first filed in 1871 but which he was unable to pursue after 1874. Bell --
working later in the same laboratory where Meucci's materials had been stored --
was not granted a patent until 1876.
When Meucci heard of Bell's activities, he urged his
lawyers to take action. The Supreme Court of the United States eventually
agreed to hear the case between Meucci and Bell, and the government was moving
to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation.
However, Meucci died before the trial commenced, rendering any judgment moot -
and the case was discontinued.
Meucci likely first began conceiving the concept of a
"talking telegraph" while serving as assistant chief engineer at Florence's
famed Teatro della Pergola. He is reported to have begun lab work on the
telephone during his stay in Cuba, but refined his invention after settling
in the Clifton section of Staten Island. On Staten Island, Meucci put his
invention to work, establishing a rudimentary communications link that
connected the basement with the first floor of his home.
Fossella's resolution was endorsed by the Order Sons of
Italy in America, the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American
Organizations and the National Italian American Foundation.
John Calvelli, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of
Major Italian American Organizations and the National Italian American Foundation
said, "Congress has sent a message that rings loud and clear recognizing the
true inventor of the telephone, Antonio Meucci. We are very pleased that
Congress has taken this critical step in acknowledging the true inventor.
Meucci's innovation, foresight, and hard work in creating one of the most
important inventions in modern history has been overlooked for far too long.
Representative Fossella has been a tireless champion of Antonio Meucci's cause –
we are grateful for all of his hard work and the work of his colleagues in