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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Some employees tiptoe around asking for a raise, but not the legendary cartoonist Al Hirschfeld.

After publishing his portraits in The New York Times for nearly four decades, Hirschfeld learned that the paper’s accounting department disputed a 50-cent charge he’d put on his expense report for a previous assignment. This episode frustrated him so much that he sent a letter to an editor at the paper in 1962 strongly requesting more money for his work.

In the letter, which was published this week on the popular Letters of Note blog, Hirschfeld got straight to the point by opening with the line, “I should like more money for my drawings.” He only got more forthright from there:

“The realization that I am not a member of a Union, I have no agent, no boodle from a loving relative awaits me, Foundations ask ME for gifts, in short .. gevalt! It also occured to me that perhaps the Times management may never offer me a raise and so I make this belated request for myself.”

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While most of us may not (and probably should not) be so biting when confronting an employer about a salary bump, the real power of the letter lies in the fact that Hirschfeld clearly knew he deserved better treatment and better pay than he had received to date. That feeling is something we can all probably relate to, but more than that, knowing your value to the company and being able to prove it is often the key to asking for a raise. Fortunately for Hirschfeld, he didn’t have to prove it – the Times and the world at large already knew.

As Letters of Note points out, he got his wish for a raise.

Read the full letter here.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.