Hamilton Fish Sr. dies at 102 congressman was FDR critic

January 20, 1991|By New York Times News Service

Hamilton Fish Sr., who as a conservative Republica congressman from New York opposed U.S. involvement in World War II until Pearl Harbor and often clashed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, died Friday evening in his house in Cold Spring, N.Y. He was 102.

Mr. Fish served in Congress from 1921 until his election defeat in 1944.

During the 1940 presidential campaign, he and two other isolationist Republican congressmen -- Joseph W. Martin Jr. and Bruce Barton -- were often denounced sneeringly by Roosevelt as "Martin, Barton and Fish."

The phrase, much quoted by historians, was a cadenced refrain in speeches by the president that were

broadcast across the country by radio.

Hamilton Fish was the son of another Hamilton Fish who served in Congress, and the grandson of yet another namesake, who had variously been a governor of New York, a senator from New York and a U.S. secretary of state under President Ulysses S. Grant.

A son, Hamilton Fish Jr., represents his old district in Congress.

Mr. Fish was a vocal adversary of President Roosevelt, opposing his New Deal policies as well as the country's growing involvement in World War II. Roosevelt's home was in Mr. Fish's congressional district.

Mr. Fish, a longtime anti-Communist, said in a recent interview that he had been "studying Communism for 50 years," and he observed at the time that "the Soviets themselves have turned against Roosevelt's great friend Stalin."

And in the interview Mr. Fish also took a positive view of the "Martin, Barton and Fish" phrase.

"Roosevelt thought all the time he was hurting me when he said that, and of course it got enormous applause," he said. "You know, he had enormous popularity."

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