Fish, Hamilton Stuyvesant

   Born in Putnam County, New York, and educated at Geneva and Harvard University, where he graduated in 1909, Hamilton Fish followed in his father’s footsteps and served as a Republican in the House of Representatives from 1920 until 1945. Prior to this he worked in insurance before entering politics as a supporter of Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party. Fish served in the New York State Assembly from 1914 to 1916. A member of the New York National Guard, he became an officer of the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, the all-black unit known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” After the war, Fish was active in the formation of the American Legion and introduced the resolution providing for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
   As a firm isolationist, Fish opposed the Versailles Peace Settlement and U.S. membership of the League of Nations. In 1939, he met and was entertained by various German Nazi officials and as a result was accused of being both pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic in the United States. He helped to establish the Committee to Keep America Out of Foreign Wars and spoke in support of the America First Committee. Fish opposed any modification of the Neutrality Acts and also resisted the introduction of Selective Service in 1940. Although he had been a long-time friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt, he became an outspoken critic of the New Deal, particularly of the Works Progress Administration and the attempted “court packing.” As a result, he was listed in a chant by the president with Bruce Barton and Joseph Martin as “Barton, Martin, and Fish” in the 1940 election campaign. However, he held onto his seat until 1945. During the war, he called for the full utilization of African Americans in all branches of the military. After the war, he continued his many business interests but also spoke and wrote in opposition to communism.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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