One page on light blue paper, with the handwritten heading "Consulate USA | Liverpool 2 Jany 1856".
The text of this letter reads:
I wrote to you on the 30 ult[im]o City of Washington that the Certificate of Registry of the SS Ericsson had been left behind. I now herewith enclose it to you [not present] trusting that it will reach you in time for the vessel. I am Your Obed Servant Nath' Hawthorne.
At the bottom of the page is an initialed note by a clerk, "Handed enclosed Registry to Mr [?] Ingraham Jany 23 1856".
In 1852 Hawthorne had written a glowing biography of one his 18 classmates at Bowdoin College, Franklin Pierce, in support of the latter's Presidential campaign -- and when Pierce was elected, he rewarded Hawthorne with the political appointment of U.S. Consul in Liverpool; in 1853 the Hawthornes took up residence there. (Hawthorne had had a position at the Salem Massachusetts Custom House during the years 1846-1849, but lost in it a political shakeup; he lambasted his former employer in the first chapter of the novel he wrote a year later, THE SCARLET LETTER). In 1856 Pierce failed to win the Democratic nomination for re-election, with the result that Hawthorne's appointment ended early in 1857 (-- though the family stayed on in Liverpool until 1859, when they returned to Concord). In May 1864 Hawthorne would die while vacationing with Pierce in New Hampshire.
This letter is a function of Hawthorne's appointment, sending along to Heman Judd Redfield, Collector for the Port of New York (another Pierce political appointee), a ship's certificate that had been left behind in Liverpool. The SS Ericsson was an immigrant steamship that in January 1856 sailed from Le Havre, presumably via Liverpool, and arrived in New York City on January 16th (its passenger manifest for that voyage is on-line, listing the thirteen passengers with age, country and profession). It was named for John Ericsson, the Swedish-American who had already invented a naval screw propeller and other designs, and would soon design the ironclad USS Monitor. During the Civil War, the ship would be part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Samuel F. DuPont, headquartered at Port Royal (South Carolina).
The letter is in fine condition (old folds, two small pieces of tape at the top of the blank verso). Item #14506