1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fish, Hamilton

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

FISH, HAMILTON (1808-1893), American statesman, was born in New York City on the 3rd of August 1808. His father, Nicholas Fish (1758-1833), served in the American army during the War of American Independence, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. The son graduated at Columbia College in 1827, and in 1830 was admitted to the bar, but practised only a short time. In 1843-1845 he was a Whig representative in Congress. He was the Whig candidate for lieutenant-governor of New York in 1846, and was defeated by Addison Gardner (Democrat); but when in 1847 Gardner was appointed a judge of the state court of appeals, Fish was elected (November 1847) to complete the term (to January 1849). He was governor of New York state from 1849 to 1851, and was United States senator in 1851-1857, acting with the Republicans during the last part of his term. In 1861-1862 he was associated with John A. Dix, William M. Evarts, William E. Dodge, A. T. Stewart, John Jacob Astor, and other New York men, on the Union Defence Committee, which (from April 22, 1861, to April 30, 1862) co-operated with the municipal government in the raising and equipping of troops, and disbursed more than a million dollars for the relief of New York volunteers and their families. Fish was secretary of state during President Grant's two administrations (1860-1877). He conducted the negotiations with Great Britain which resulted in the treaty of the 8th of May 1871, under which (Article 1) the “Alabama claims” were referred to arbitration, and the same disposition (Article 34) was made of the “San Juan Boundary Dispute,” concerning the Oregon boundary line. In 1871 Fish presided at the Peace Conference at Washington between Spain and the allied republics of Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia, which resulted in the formulation (April 12) of a general truce between those countries, to last indefinitely and not to be broken by any one of them without three years' notice given through the United States; and it was chiefly due to his restraint and moderation that a satisfactory settlement of the “Virginius Affair” was reached by the United States and Spain (1873). Fish was vice-president-general of the Society of the Cincinnati from 1848 to 1854, and president-general from 1854 until his death. He died in Garrison, New York, on the 7th of September 1893.

His son, Nicholas Fish (1846-1902), was appointed second secretary of legation at Berlin in 1871, became secretary in 1874, and was chargé d'affaires at Berne in 1877-1881, and minister to Belgium in 1882-1886, after which he engaged in banking in New York City.