By Tiziano Thomas Dossena
Published by Bridge Apulia USA N.8, 2002
A U.S. Congress Resolution (H.RES. 692) recognizes Antonio Meucci as the true inventor, but the Canadian House of Commons denies him his rightful position in history.
In 1999, Bridge Apulia USA published my article titled “Meucci, Forgotten Italian Genius”. That essay was a tribute to this gifted Italian inventor, but it was also a remonstration against the indifference the U.S. government had shown to the clear-cut corruption and plagiarism that involved the handling of this case. The injustice imparted upon him had deprived Meucci of his financial rights to the invention and, accordingly, of the commercial development of the telephone. Most of all it had deprived him of the rights to be known as the inventor of the telephone, an honor which he clearly deserved.
Fortunately, an update on the subject was ultimately necessary. Thanks to the submission by U.S. Representative Vito Fossella Jr., a Republican from our very own Staten Island, a Resolution was passed by the U.S. Congress to acknowledge the works of Meucci and his invention of the telephone. The Resolution contains unambiguous historical references“…in March 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, who conducted experiments in the same laboratory where Meucci’s materials had been stored, was granted a patent and was thereafter credited with inventing the telephone… on January 13, 1887, the Government of the United States moved to annul the patent issued to Bell on the grounds of fraud and misrepresentation, a case that the Supreme Court found viable and remanded for trial…Meucci died in October 1889, the Bell patent expired in January 1893, and the case was discontinued as moot”.
We therefore hail the Congress’ overdue decision to acknowledge the facts, nothing but the facts. Frankly, further work needs to be done, so that a similar resolution may get the sanction in the U.S. Senate. When this will occur, the American textbooks will finally have to carry the change that so many Italians have envisioned for so long: Antonio Meucci is the true inventor of the telephone!
Meucci supporters should be jubilant of these developments, but another cloud has darkened the sky. The Canadian House of Commons, as a retort to the U.S. House Resolution 692, passed a motion to reiterate the legitimate status of the claim to the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. The Canadian legislators declared that the U.S. Resolution was “an expression of opinion that doesn’t carry legal weight”.
History repeats itself. Confronted by the U.S. admission of negligence toward this impoverished, but proud, Tuscan inventor, the best the Canadian legislators could come up with was to put their blinders on, stomp their feet and declare that they did not care what other people, specially Americans, say. Facts don’t count? Documents don’t count? What counts, then?
As previously declared, Meucci was a typical martyr of the bureaucracy and of the power of money, but most of all, was a victim of ignorance and bias. An injustice has been at least partially corrected. Italians and all people that believe in justice should be pleased with the outcome. The Canadian Government, though, by repeating the affront to Meucci’s name and legacy, has reopened the wound and lessened the favorable impact that the U.S. Congress Resolution should have on all of us who seek justice for Meucci’s name. Italians from all over the world should let Canada ’s government know what they think of this rash decision which has one more time smeared Meucci’s memory.
Will Meucci’s name ever find for everyone the place in history that it deserves? Let us all keep working at it.