He was elected to the United States Senate March 4, 1851 to replace Daniel S. Dickinson and there he served on the U.S.  Senate Committee on Foreign Relations until the end of his term March 3, 1857.  He was a Republican for the latter part of his term and was part of a moderately anti-slavery faction.  He opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. At the expiration of his term, he traveled with his family to Europe and remained there until shortly before the opening of the American Civil War, when he returned to begin actively campaigning for the election of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1861 and 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) cooperated with the New York City government in the raising and equipping troops, and disbursed more than $1 million for the relief of New York volunteers and their families.

He was also appointed in 1862 to serve with Edward Raymond Ames to visit the Union Army prisoners being held in the Confederate States of America capital in Richmond, Virginia.  The Confederate government, however, refused to allow the commission to enter the city.

Senator Hamilton Fish

Hamilton Fish was born August 3, 1808 at what is now known as the Stuyvesant-Fish House in Greenwich Village, New York City, to Nicholas Fish and Elizabeth Stuyvesant (a great-great-granddaughter of New Amsterdam's Peter Stuyvesant), and his parents named him after their friend Alexander Hamilton.  Nicholas Fish (1758-1833) was a leading Federalist politician and notable figure of the American Revolutionary War.  Fish married Julia Kean (a descendant of a New Yorker who was a New Jersey governor, William Livingston) in 1836.  They would have three sons and five daughters, and multiple notable relatives. 

Hamilton graduated from Columbia College in 1827 and was admitted to the New York bar in 1830, practicing briefly with William Beach Lawrence.  He served as commissioner of deeds for the city and county of New York from 1832 through 1833, and was an unsuccessful candidate for New York State Assembly in 1834.

As a member of the Whig party, Fish was elected to the House of Representatives, defeating Democrat John McKeon and serving in the 28th Congress from New York's 6th District between 1843 and 1845.  After losing his bid for re-election, he returned to private practice as a lawyer. He was the Whig candidate for lieutenant governor of New York in 1846, but was defeated by Democrat Addison Gardiner, in part because of Fish's opposition to the Anti-Rent faction. In 1847, however, after Gardiner was appointed a judge of the New York Court of Appeals, Fish was elected (November 1847) to complete the term (until December 31, 1848).

He was elected as Governor of New York in 1848, defeating John A. Dix and Reuben H. Walworth, and served from January 1, 1849 through December 31, 1850.

Hamilton Fish in his elder years.  He also served as Secretary of State between March 17, 1869 and March 12, 1877 under Ulysses S. Grant. He was Grant's longest-serving Cabinet officer.

He conducted the negotiations with Great Britain which resulted in the Treaty of Washington of 1871, under which the Alabama claims and the San Juan Boundary Dispute (concerning the Oregon boundary line) were referred to arbitration.  He also negotiated the reciprocity treaty of 1875 with the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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 a general truce between those countries.

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 in 1873.

Within the Department of State, he promoted testing job applicants to see if they were truly qualified for duty at a consulate.

Hamilton Fish Secretary of State

Hamilton Fish
( 1808 - 1893 )

Potter Family History