Hamilton Fish

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Hamilton Fish
Signature of Hamilton Fish

Hamilton Fish (born August 3, 1808 in New York City , † September 7, 1893 ) was an American politician .


Fish studied at Columbia College (now Columbia University ) law and set out, politically engaged, soon a reputation as a lawyer . From 1843 to 1845 he was a member of the Whig Party deputy in the United States House of Representatives . In 1848 he was Lieutenant Governor and was elected Governor of New York State for the term from 1849 to 1850 . From 1851 to 1857 he was a US Senator ; during this time the Whigs went into the Republican Party, founded in 1855 . He then traveled to Europe with his family and stayed there until the outbreak of the civil war in 1861.

On March 11, 1869, he was named Secretary of State of the United States by President Ulysses S. Grant . Fish is best known for his skillful negotiations in the conflict with Spain and Great Britain . In 1871 and 1872 he also led the difficult negotiations with Great Britain over the Alabama question and the legality of the USA's indirect claims for compensation attached to it. Fish failed to enforce the latter against the British government and the Geneva Arbitration Tribunal established to settle this dispute in January 1872; nevertheless, he received at least $ 15.5 million in compensation in gold.

After Grant's second term as president ended on March 4, 1877, Fish resigned and has lived in New York ever since.


Fish had two sons: Hamilton Fish II (1848-1936) was a congressman, Stuyvesant Fish (1851-1923) was president of the Illinois Central Railroad from 1887 . His grandson Hamilton Fish III (1888-1991) and his great-grandson Hamilton Fish IV (1926-1996) were also Congressmen.


  • Michael J. Devine: Hamilton Fish. In: Edward S. Mihalkanin (Ed.): American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell . Greenwood Publishing 2004, ISBN 978-0-313-30828-4 , pp. 191-199.

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