The U.S. Federal Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860, passed June 16, 1860 to subsidize a telegraph line that would complete telegraphic communication between the east and west coast of the United States, incorporated one of the earliest statements of network neutrality:
"messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini, shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting that the dispatches of the government shall have priority. . ." (Wikipedia article on Network neutrality, accessed 12-24-2010).