Moses Hampton to Abraham Lincoln, 30 March 18491Pittsburgh
March. 30, 1849Hon Abm. LincolnDr Sir
Do you remember the story of the old Virginian stropping his razor on a certain member of a young negro's body? which you told and connected it with my mission to Brazil–2 Now my good fellow, I am "arter" that same mission,3 and my object in writing to you just now is to ask the favor that you will address a letter to Gen Taylor or Mr Clayton on that subject– and you may spice it just as highly as you please, I have made up my mind to stand it– I want that appointment and must have it– Will you have the goodness to procure a letter from Col Baker, who is well and favorably Known to Gen. Taylor– Any influence you may feel disposed to exert, shall be repaid with compound interest, if ever in my power to do so–
I want this application to be like your story of the old woman[']s fish—get larger, the more it is handled–
Let me hear from you soon–Very truly
Your friend &c[etc]M. Hampton
2Hampton and Abraham Lincoln had served together in the 30th Congress. Congressman Lincoln was well-known for his dirty and off-color stories, which entertained his fellow representatives.
Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:261.
3The word “arter” in this context was most likely a regional or colloquial variant of the word “after.”
“Arter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arter, accessed 2 September 2020.
4Lincoln wrote this endorsement. Lincoln apparently answered Hampton’s letter, but his response has not been located.
Hampton most likely hoped that President Zachary Taylor would name him envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Brazil. There is no documentary evidence that Lincoln wrote to President Taylor and Secretary of State John M. Clayton endorsing Hampton’s application, nor any letter to Edward D. Baker requesting a letter to President Taylor on Hampton’s behalf. Hampton did not get the appointment; David Tod, appointed by President James K. Polk in 1847, retained the job until 1851, when Robert C. Schenck replaced him.
Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1849 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1849), 12; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1851), 13.
Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page(s), Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress (Washington, DC).