Hamilton Fish III
Hamilton Fish III was a soldier and politician from New York State
United States Congressional Delegations from New York
These are tables of congressional delegations from New York to the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives.Over the years, New York has demographically changed so that it is hard to consider each district to be a continuation of the same numbered district before...

. Born into a family long active in the state
Politics of New York
The Politics of New York State tend to be more liberal than in most of the United States, with in recent decades a solid majority of Democratic voters, concentrated in New York City and some of its suburbs, and in the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany...

, he served in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from 1920 to 1945 and during that time was a prominent opponent of United States intervention in foreign affairs and was a critic of President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. When Fish celebrated his 102nd birthday in 1990, he was the oldest living American who had served in Congress.

Background, family, and early life

Fish was born Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish in Garrison
Garrison, New York
Garrison is a hamlet in Putnam County, New York, United States. It is part of the town of Philipstown and is on the east side of the Hudson River, across from the United States Military Academy at West Point...

, Putnam County, New York
Putnam County, New York
Putnam County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York, in the lower Hudson River Valley. Putnam county formed in 1812, when it detached from Dutchess County. , the population was 99,710. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. The county seat is the hamlet of Carmel...

 to former U.S. Representative Hamilton Fish II
Hamilton Fish II
Hamilton Fish II was an American lawyer and politician.-Life:He was the son of Julia Ursin Niemcewicz Kean and Hamilton Fish. He graduated from Columbia College of Columbia University, where he was a member of St...

 and the former Emily Mann. His paternal grandfather, Hamilton Fish
Hamilton Fish
Hamilton Fish was an American statesman and politician who served as the 16th Governor of New York, United States Senator and United States Secretary of State. Fish has been considered one of the best Secretary of States in the United States history; known for his judiciousness and reform efforts...

, was United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 under President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

. The father of the first Hamilton Fish, Nicholas Fish (born 1758), an officer in the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 and later appointed adjutant general
Adjutant general
An Adjutant General is a military chief administrative officer.-Imperial Russia:In Imperial Russia, the General-Adjutant was a Court officer, who was usually an army general. He served as a personal aide to the Tsar and hence was a member of the H. I. M. Retinue...

 of New York State by Governor George Clinton
George Clinton (vice president)
George Clinton was an American soldier and politician, considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was the first Governor of New York, and then the fourth Vice President of the United States , serving under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He and John C...


The wife of Nicholas Fish was Elizabeth Stuyvesant, a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant , served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed New York...

, who was the Dutch colonial governor of New York. Through his mother, Emily Mann, Hamilton Fish III was also a descendant of Thomas Hooker
Thomas Hooker
Thomas Hooker was a prominent Puritan colonial leader, who founded the Colony of Connecticut after dissenting with Puritan leaders in Massachusetts...

, who settled Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

 in 1636. Fish's uncle Elias Mann
Elias Mann
Elias Mann was born May 8 1750 in Weymouth, Massachusetts and died in Northhampton May 12, 1825. Elias Mann was one of the first American composers. He was one of the men responsible for founding the Massachusetts Musical Society-Scores:...

 was a judge and three-term mayor of Troy, New York
Troy, New York
Troy is a city in the US State of New York and the seat of Rensselaer County. Troy is located on the western edge of Rensselaer County and on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. Troy has close ties to the nearby cities of Albany and Schenectady, forming a region popularly called the Capital...


Fish's great-grandmother, Susan Livingston, married Count Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz in 1800 after the death of her husband, John Kean
John Kean (South Carolina)
John Kean was an American merchant from Charleston, South Carolina. He was a delegate for South Carolina in the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1787 and advocated ratification of the United States Constitution at South Carolina's ratifying convention...

 (who had been a delegate to the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 from South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

.) A soldier and statesman, Niemcewicz was credited with writing the Polish Constitution of 1791. John Kean and Susan Livingston's great-grandson, and thus a relative of Fish, was Thomas Kean
Thomas Kean
Thomas Howard Kean is an American Republican Party politician, who served as the 48th Governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990. Kean is best known globally, however, for his 2002 appointment as Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, widely known as the...

, who was elected governor of New Jersey
Governor of New Jersey
The Office of the Governor of New Jersey is the executive branch for the U.S. state of New Jersey. The office of Governor is an elected position, for which elected officials serve four year terms. While individual politicians may serve as many terms as they can be elected to, Governors cannot be...

 in 1982.

A cousin of Hamilton Fish III (also named Hamilton Fish
Hamilton Fish II (Rough Rider)
Hamilton Fish II, of the Rough Riders, a wealthy young New Yorker, was a Sergeant in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, the Rough Riders, during the Spanish-American War. He is said to be the first American killed in the Battle of Las Guasimas, near Santiago, Cuba, on June 24, 1898...

) was sergeant in Company L of Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

's "Rough Riders
Rough Riders
The Rough Riders is the name bestowed on the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, one of three such regiments raised in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and the only one of the three to see action. The United States Army was weakened and left with little manpower after the American Civil War...

", and the first American soldier killed in action during the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

. At the age of ten, Hamilton Fish II had his son's name legally changed from Hamilton Stuyvesant Fish to just Hamilton Fish to honor his fallen cousin (he and Hamilton Fish III never met).

Fish was married in 1921 to Grace Chapin Rogers (1885–1960), daughter of onetime Brooklyn Mayor Alfred Clark Chapin. Their son, Hamilton Fish IV
Hamilton Fish IV
See Hamilton Fish for others with the same nameHamilton Fish, Jr. was a Republican politician best known as a member of the U.S. Congressional Delegation from New York....

, was a thirteen-term U.S. Representative from New York, holding office from 1969 to 1995. The Fishes' daughter Lillian Veronica Fish married David Whitmire Hearst, son of William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...



During his childhood, Fish attended Chateau de Lancy, a Swiss school near Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, which his father also attended in 1860; there, the younger Fish learned French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and played soccer. He spent summers with his family in Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

. He began his U.S. boarding school education at Fay School
Fay School
Fay School is an independent, coeducational day and boarding school, located on a campus some from Boston in Southborough, Massachusetts. It has 465 students enrolled from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 9; the boarding program enrolls 100 students from throughout the United States and more than...

 in Southborough, Massachusetts
Southborough, Massachusetts
Southborough is an affluent town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. It incorporates the smaller villages of Cordaville, Fayville, and Southville. Its name is often informally shortened to Southboro, a usage seen on many area signs and maps. Its population was 9,767 at the 2010...

, and he later attended St. Mark's School
St. Mark's School (Massachusetts)
St. Mark’s School is a coeducational, Episcopal, preparatory school, situated on in Southborough, Massachusetts, from Boston. It was founded in 1865 as an all-boys' school by Joseph Burnett, a wealthy native of Southborough who developed and marketed the world-famous Burnett Vanilla Extract . ...

, a preparatory school
University-preparatory school
A university-preparatory school or college-preparatory school is a secondary school, usually private, designed to prepare students for a college or university education...

 also in Southborough. Fish later described himself as a "B student" but successful in several different sports.

Graduating from St. Mark's in 1906, Fish went on to attend Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. There, he played on Harvard's football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 team as a tackle and was a member of the Porcellian Club
Porcellian Club
The Porcellian Club is a men's-only final club at Harvard University, sometimes called the Porc or the P.C. The year of founding is usually given as 1791, when a group began meeting under the name "the Argonauts," or as 1794, the year of the roast pig dinner at which the club, known first as "the...

. Standing 6 in 4 in (1.93 m) and weighing 200 pounds (90.7 kg), "Ham" Fish was highly successful as a football player; he was twice an All-America
College Football All-America Team
The College Football All-America Team is an honor given annually to the best American college football players at their respective positions. The original usage of the term All-America seems to have been to the 1889 College Football All-America Team selected by Casper Whitney and published in This...

 and in 1954 was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
The College Football Hall of Fame is a hall of fame and museum devoted to college football. Located in South Bend, Indiana, it is connected to a convention center and situated in the city's renovated downtown district, two miles south of the University of Notre Dame campus. It is slated to move...

. After graduating from Harvard, Fish continued his involvement in football. He donated $5000 for several awards to Harvard football players; and organized the Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 football team, which played exhibition games with other colleges around the country.

In 1909, aged twenty, Fish graduated from Harvard with a cum laude degree in history and government. He declined an offer to teach history at Harvard and instead took a job in a New York City insurance office.

Military service

Fish accepted an offer from Col. William Hayward to become a captain in the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, a unit made up of African American enlisted men which came to be known as the "Harlem Hellfighters." The summer after President Wilson's declaration of war against Germany (in April 1917), Fish and about two thousand soldiers began training at Camp Whitman (in New York). In October 1917, the unit was ordered to Camp Wadsworth (in South Carolina) for further training. In November 1917, the regiment boarded the USS Pocahontas, destined for France, although shortly thereafter the ship returned to shore due to engine problems. After another abortive departure, the ship left on December 13, 1917. Despite colliding with another ship and not having a destroyer escort to protect against German submarines
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

, the regiment reached France. (Fish complained to Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy
Assistant Secretary of the Navy is the title given to certain civilian senior officials in the United States Department of the Navy....

 Franklin D. Roosevelt about the lack of an escort.)

Fish and his unit landed in Brest, France
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

 on December 26; the 369th was placed under the control of the French army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 by U.S. General John Pershing. Altogether, the 369th spent 191 days on the front lines, which was the longest of any American regiment. It was also the first Allied regiment to reach the Rhine River. Fish, as well as his sister Janet (who had been a nurse near the front lines), were both later inducted into the French Legion of Honor for their wartime service.

Service in the U.S. Congress

First elected to fill the vacancy caused by Edmund Platt
Edmund Platt
Edmund Platt was a United States Representative from New York.Born in Poughkeepsie, he attended a private school and Riverview Academy. He graduated from Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie and learned the printer's trade. He graduated from Harvard University in 1888 and taught school and...

, Fish was a member of the United States House of Representatives from November 2, 1920 until January 3, 1945, having been defeated for reelection in 1944. In nearly 25 years as a congressman, Fish would become known as a strong anti-communist
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 and a bitter opponent of his erstwhile friend Franklin D. Roosevelt, which raised his profile and made him an ally of the anti-Roosevelt members of Congress.

He was opposed to Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

's New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 policies before and after Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

. A non-interventionist
Nonintervention or non-interventionism is a foreign policy which holds that political rulers should avoid alliances with other nations, but still retain diplomacy, and avoid all wars not related to direct self-defense...

 until Pearl Harbor, Fish was responsible for a number of legislative and diplomatic moves aimed at helping Jews out of Hitler's
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 Germany and turned aside as refugees. His unapologetic opposition to the New Deal provoked Roosevelt into including him with two other Capitol Hill opponents in a rollicking taunt that became a staple of FDR's 1940 re-election campaign
United States presidential election, 1940
The United States presidential election of 1940 was fought in the shadow of World War II as the United States was emerging from the Great Depression. Incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt , a Democrat, broke with tradition and ran for a third term, which became a major issue...

: "Martin, Barton and Fish." Finally, in part under the influence of New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Fish's congressional career ended when he won the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 primary in his district but lost the general election in 1944.

The Unknown Soldier of World War I and the Tomb of the Unknowns

On December 21, 1920, Congressman Hamilton Fish introduced legislation which was to be among his most enduring and patriotic acts as a member of Congress. It was Resolution 67 of the 66th Congress which provided for the return to the United States the remains of an unknown American soldier killed in France during World War I and for interment of his remains in a hallowed tomb to be constructed outside the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia across the Potomac River from the nation's capital. The Congress approved the resolution on March 4, 1921. On October 23, 1921 at Châlons-sur-Marne, France, about 90 miles from Paris, remains of an unknown soldier were selected from among six caskets containing remains of unknown American soldiers killed in France. The selected remains were returned to the United States and interred at the tomb site in Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1921 in solemn ceremony following a state funeral procession from the U.S. Capitol building where the World War I Unknown had lain in state. The tomb, completed in 1937, came to be known as The Tomb of the Unknowns (Soldiers) which is today guarded around the clock daily by elite sentries of the U.S. Army's historic ceremonial but combat ready 3rd Infantry Regiment—"The Old Guard." The tomb, and unknown soldiers of three U.S. wars interred there today, is thought to be the most hallowed military site in the United States and may well be Fish's greatest legacy to the nation.

Fish Committee

Hamilton Fish was a fervent anti-communist; in a 1931 article, he described communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 as "the most important, the most vital, the most far-reaching, and the most dangerous issue in the world" and believed that there was extensive communist influence in the United States.

On May 5, 1930, he introduced House Resolution 180, which proposed to establish a committee to investigate communist activities in the United States; the resulting committee, commonly known as the Fish Committee, undertook extensive investigations of people and organizations suspected of being involved with or supporting communist activities in the United States. Among the committee's targets were the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 and Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 presidential candidate William Z. Foster
William Z. Foster
William Foster was a radical American labor organizer and Marxist politician, whose career included a lengthy stint as General Secretary of the Communist Party USA...

. The committee recommended granting the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 more authority to investigate communists, and strengthening of immigration and deportation laws to keep communists out of the United States.

Fish's alleged Nazi ties and "isolationism"

Fish was touted by the Germans as a friendly American ally. Time magazine
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 once termed him "the Nation's No. 1 isolationist."

On August 14, 1939, Fish, president of the U.S. delegation to the Interparliamentary Union Congress conference in Oslo, Norway, met with Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

. Ribbentrop served as Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 from 1938 until 1945. Fish flew to Oslo in Ribbentrop's private plane. Fish, a staunch opponent of Roosevelt, advocated better relations with Nazi Germany and hoped to solve the "Danzig question" during the conference in Norway. "Stepping out of Joachim von Ribbentrop's plane in 1939, Fish opined that Germany's claims were 'just.

On his return to the United States, Fish used his office to distribute copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent, antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the twentieth century...

. When accused of antisemitism, he responded, "It doesn't bother me any. There's been too much Jewism going around anyway."

In 1940, just after the presidential election, Fish sent a telegram to Roosevelt which read: "Congratulations. I pledge my support for national defense ... and to keep America out of foreign wars."

In 1941, a judiciary panel investigating the activities of Nazi agents in the U.S., sent officers to the Washington headquarters of an anti-British organization, the Islands for War Debts Committee, to seize eight bags of franked Congressional mail containing speeches by isolationist members of Congress. George Hill, Fish's chief of staff, had the mail whisked away to Ham Fish's office storeroom just prior to their arrival.

A grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

 was convened and summoned George Hill to explain: 1) why he had been so solicitous about the Islands for War Debts Committee's mail; and 2) his close association with George Sylvester Viereck
George Sylvester Viereck
George Sylvester Viereck was a German-American poet, writer, and propagandist.-Biography:...

, a Nazi propaganda agent. (Viereck would later be convicted of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act
Foreign Agents Registration Act
The Foreign Agents Registration Act is a United States law passed in 1938 requiring that agents representing the interests of foreign powers be properly identified to the American public. The act was passed in response to German propaganda in the lead-up to World War II...

 and for having subsidized the Islands for War Debts Committee.) Hill said he had not sent for the mail and did not know George Sylvester Viereck. The jury promptly indicted George Hill on a charge of perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...


Shortly after the indictment, Fish defended Hill claiming, "George Hill is 100% O.K., and I'll back George Hill to the limit on anything." During the trial, Hill had explained that Viereck visited Capitol Hill in 1940 and arranged for wholesale distribution of Congressional speeches attacking the Administration's foreign policy. After hearing a jury had reached its verdict and anticipating a conviction, Fish issued a statement: "I am very sorry to learn that George Hill, a disabled, decorated veteran of the World War and a clerk in my office, has been convicted of perjury... Mr. Hill is of English ancestry... He had an obsession against our involvement in war." Twenty hours later, the jury did convict Hill.

Less than two weeks before the 1942 midterm congressional election, columnist Drew Pearson's
Drew Pearson (journalist)
Andrew Russell Pearson , known professionally as Drew Pearson, was one of the best-known American columnists of his day, noted for his muckraking syndicated newspaper column "Washington Merry-Go-Round," in which he attacked various public persons, sometimes with little or no objective proof for his...

 nationally-syndicated column (Washington Merry-Go-Round) described in detail how in 1939 Fish had received over $3,100 in cash from a source with German ties.

Britain's campaign to defeat Hamilton Fish

The British Security Cooperation focused a great deal of effort attempting to influence Congressmen through front groups, campaigning, and agents of influence. In 1940, BSC agents ran the Nonpartisan Committee to Defeat Hamilton Fish in order to “put the fear of God into every isolationist senator and congressman.” The committee raised substantial sums of money for Fish’s opponent, coordinated several media attacks, created false charges of wrong doing just before elections, and helped distribute books charging Fish with disloyalty. The committee as much as possible tried to make attacks on Fish appear to originate from his district though historical documents indicate most attacks originated outside of his district. Fish survived the attack in 1940 but won his election with less than half the margin of victory he earned 2 years earlier.

Wartime elections

In the 1942 election, Fish (like other former isolationists) was considered vulnerable. The Orange and Putnam district that Fish represented had begun to turn against him. Polls predicted, incorrectly, that Fish would not even win the Republican primary. For the first time in his 22 years of political campaigning he opened campaign headquarters. Soon thereafter he was repudiated by the popular Republican gubernatorial candidate, Thomas Dewey. But the November 1942 election occurred when voters were impatient for the battlefield victories that would later come, and Fish defeated his Democratic opponent by 4,000 votes.

However, reapportionment, which took effect in 1944, fragmented his district. That year he ran in a district that no longer included his home county of Putnam, but included one county (Orange) from his previous district and three new counties. Fish was defeated by approximately 5,000 votes. As Time magazine reported, "In New York, to the nation's delight, down went rabid anti-Roosevelt isolationist Hamilton Fish, after 24 years in Congress. His successor: liberal Augustus W. Bennet
Augustus W. Bennet
Augustus Witschief Bennet was a United States Representative from New York. Born in New York City, he was a son of U.S. Representative William Stiles Bennet and attended the public schools in New York City and Washington, D.C....

, 47, Newburgh lawyer."

About his exit from Congress, Fish said in his election-night concession speech that "my defeat should be largely credited to Communistic and Red forces from New York City backed by a large slush fund probably exceeding $250,000." As he viewed it several weeks later, "It took most of the New Deal Administration, half of Moscow, $400,000, and Governor Dewey to defeat me...."

Embittered by his defeat, Fish promptly sued Robert F. Cutler (executive secretary of the group, Good Government Committee) for libel, seeking $250,000 in damages for advertisements depicting Fish as a Nazi sympathizer. The ads also depicted Fish associating with the "American Führer", Fritz Kuhn. He would later discontinue the lawsuit without a settlement.

After Congress

Although pledging on December 8, 1941 that he would volunteer for the Army to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, Fish did not serve in World War II; he was actually 53 years old at that time.

Fish wrote a short history of World War I and an autobiography, Hamilton Fish: Memoir of an American Patriot, published shortly after his death. For many years he was a familiar speaker at various political and veterans' functions; an indefatigable traveler, he was known to do it by car as often as not. Almost invariably, he ended such speeches with, "If there is any country worth living in, if there is any country worth fighting for, and if there is any country worth dying for, it is the United States of America." In 1958 Fish founded the Order of Lafayette
Order of Lafayette
The Order of Lafayette is a patriotic, hereditary, nonpartisan, and fraternal organization established in New York City in 1958 by Colonel Hamilton Fish III , a former Congressman from New York and decorated veteran of the First World War...

, a hereditary and patriotic organization to honor those men who fought in France in both world wars. Fish was the Order's first President, serving for a number of years.

Ancestors and descendants

Although he was the third Hamilton Fish in direct line in his family, like his father and his son, he was known as Hamilton Fish, Jr. during his time in Congress. His grandson has also been known as Hamilton Fish III, and was publisher of the left-wing magazine The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

before making his own unsuccessful run for Congress as "Hamilton Fish, Jr." in 1994. He is also referred to as Hamilton Fish V
Hamilton Fish V
Hamilton Fish is a publisher, social entrepreneur, environmental advocate, and film producer in New York City. He was born in Washington, D.C. to Hamilton and Julia MacKenzie Fish. He attended schools in New York City and Massachusetts, where he graduated from Harvard University in 1973...

. Hamilton Fish III married his fourth and last wife, Lydia Ambrogio Fish on Sept.9th 1988 and they remained married until his passing. She survives to this writing and lives in retirement in Port Jervis, NY.

External links

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