Fish (New York family)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Fish (New York family)

Fish, family long prominent in New York politics.

Nicholas Fish, 1758–1833, b. New York City. He studied law before serving ably as a major in a New York regiment throughout the American Revolution. A New York City alderman (1806–17), he was a leading Federalist and a close friend of Alexander Hamilton. He also served (1824–32) as chairman of the board of trustees of Columbia College, a post later held by his son, Hamilton Fish (1808–93), the most illustrious member of the clan (see separate articles for Hamilton Fish, 1808–93, and for his youngest son, Stuyvesant Fish). Nicholas Fish, 1848–1902, b. New York City, was Hamilton's eldest son. He entered (1871) the U.S. diplomatic service and was minister to Belgium (1882–86).

A third son, Hamilton Fish, 1849–1936, b. Albany, N.Y., studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1873. He was a member of the New York state assembly (1874–96), serving as speaker in 1895–96, and was long Republican boss of Putnam co. On appointment by President Theodore Roosevelt, he was Assistant Treasurer of the United States in New York City (1903–8). He also served (1909–11) as a U.S. Representative.

The family's third Hamilton Fish, 1888–1991, son of the foregoing, b. Garrison, N.Y., was a football player at Harvard. A lawyer, Fish served in the New York state assembly (1914–16), distinguished himself in World War I as captain of an African-American infantry company, and from 1920 to 1945 was a U.S. Representative. A leading isolationist and vigorous anti-Communist, once accused of having connections with the Bundists and with other Axis supporters, he was opposed for renomination in 1944 by Gov. Thomas E. Dewey and other Republican leaders. Fish nevertheless won the primary but was defeated for reelection in November.

His son Hamilton Fish, 1926–96, b. Washington, D.C., continued the family's involvement in Republican politics. Admitted to the bar in 1957, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York in 1968, where he consistently supported civil-rights legislation. He retired from Congress in 1995.

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