* World War II -- isolantionists individuals Hamilton Fish

Individual Isolationists: Hamilton Fish III (1888?-1991)

Figure 1.--These are the children of Congressman Hamilton Fish at thei Washington D.C. home in 1929, the year of the Stock Markert crash and omset of the Deoression. The children are Hamilton and Elizabeth. Congressman Fish was President Roosevelt's comgressman and one of th President's most outspoken critics.

Hamilton Fish III was the son of a noted American statesman--Hamilton Fish who was a New York governor and senator before the Civil War and President Grant's Secretary of State. He ably put American and British relations on a more positive trajectory. A grandson charged up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders and is said to be the first American killed in the battle. He had a son, a grandson and a great-grandson (all named Hamilton Fish) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. One of them Hamilton Fish III was among the most outspoken isolationists. Fish was an accomplished collegiate athelete. He served during World War I as the commander of an all black regiment (ecept for white officers) known as the "Harlem Hellfighters". After the War, Fish was elected to Congress in a Republican sweep (1920). With the ellection of Franklin Roosevelt (1932), he became a staunch opponent of the New Deal. Ironically, Fish was Roosevelt's own Congressman. Fish not only opposed the New Deal, but also Roosevelt's efforts to ressist the dictators. Fish did cooperate, however, in helping Jewish refugees. Dr. Hans Thomsen was the Chargé d'Affaires at the Embassy of Germany in Washington. The United States after Kristallnacht recalled its ambassador in Berlin (November 1938). The German Government then recalled Ambassador Hans-Heinrich Dieckhoff. Thomsen appears to have accurately assessed the Roosevelt Administration and its anti-NAZI orientation. Like Ambassador Dieckhoff, he reported to Berlin on the President's hostility. While he was in charge of the Embassy, the Isolationist Movement in America gained strength. He did what he could to support the Isolationists and other Americans opposing involvement in another world war. [Thomsett, p. 151.] Thomsen saw an opportunity in the 1940 presidential election to replace Roosevelt with an isolationist Republican. He thus oversaw an effort at the Republican National Convention to pass an anti-war platform. [Stout] Thomsen cabeled the Foreign Ministry that a "well-known Republican congressman" had offered to take a group of 50 isolationists to the convention for a $3,000 payment. (June 12, 1940). [Wallace, p. 262.] He was apparently reffering to arch FDR-foe Hamiltion Fish. There is no collaboration that Fish actually solicited such a bribe. Thomsen asked Berlin for the requested funds as well as the money to arrange for full page advertisements in newspapers during the convention. The source of the finds of course was hidden. The ads were placed. They were written by George Viereck, a German agent working for Congressman Fish. The ads appear to have had some affect. Thomsen reported back to Berlin that the wording of the Republican Plank "was taken almost verbatim" from an ad which appeared in the New York Times as well as other papers. No one really knows, but there is no evidence indicating that Fish was involved with the German campaign. He certainly was an important isolationist and opposed in American particiption in another war. He directed the National Committee to Keep America Out of Foreign Wars, the group which sponsored the ads. Of course all this came to naught when the Republicans nominated Wendel Wilkie who shared Rossevelt's dislike of the NAZis. Fish's staunch opposition to the New Deal made him a favorite target of the President. The President during the crucial 1940 election loved to taunt him with the often repeated refrain at campaign speeches--"Martin, Barton and Fish." The audiences loved it and often joined in. (Joseph Martin and Bruce Barton were two other important House Republicans who opposed the New Deal.) Like many other notable Congressional isolationists, Fish lost his seat in the reaction after Pearl Harbor. Fish managed to hang on in 1942, but was defeated in 1944. After the War he spoke extensively round the country. He usually ended his talks with, "If there is any country worth living in, if there is any country worth fighting for, and if there is any country worth dying for, it is the United States of America."


Thomsett, Michael C. The German Opposition to Hitler: The Resistance, the Underground, and Assassination Plots, 1938-1945 (McFarland & Company: 1997).


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Created: 8:05 PM 1/19/2020
Last updated: 8:06 PM 1/19/2020