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From Alexander Hamilton to William Loughton Smith, 11 March 1800

To William Loughton Smith1

New York March 11, 1800.

Dear Sir:

You will probably have heard before this reaches you that I had appointed Captain Izard one of my aids. I part with him to you with all the reluctance that a strong impression of his merit can inspire. Yet I do not resist his going because our military prospects in general, and mine in particular are very uncertain.

Though we have had no communication since your departure you may be assured that I have not ceased to interest myself in your welfare. If you go to Constantinople I wish you good luck. Tis perhaps past the time for you to play the false Ibrahim.2 You see I am in a humour to laugh. What can we do better in this best of all possible worlds? Should you ever be shut up in the seven towers, or get the plague, if you are a true philsopher, you will consider this only as laughing matter.



JCH Transcripts description begins John C. Hamilton Transcripts, Columbia University Libraries. description ends .

1For background to this letter, see George Izard to H, February 25, March 2, 1800; and H to Izard, February 27, March 5, 1800.

2The title of “false Ibrahim” was given to one of the Ottoman Emperors who reigned from February 8, 1640, to August 8, 1648, and was assassinated on August 18, 1648. His Turkish name is “Deli Ibrahim,” which means foolish or crazy and was given to him because of his strange behavior. The information in this paragraph was kindly supplied by Mr. Sitki Coskun, the Consul-General of Turkey to the United States.

The expression “false Ibrahim” may be the origin of the term “sham Abraham,” which refers to a person who feigns illness or distress to avoid work.

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