Hamilton Fish III and the Desmond-Fish Library

The Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison this week issued the statement below in response to reporting on Ultra, an MSNBC podcast devoted to “the all-but-forgotten true story of good, old-fashioned American extremism getting supercharged by proximity to power.”

The Desmond-Fish Public Library was founded in 1980 by Hamilton Fish III [1888-1991] and his wife, Alice Curtis Desmond. Fish represented the Hudson Valley in Congress from 1920 to 1945.

Recent episodes of the podcast Ultra, hosted by Rachel Maddow, reported actions and statements in the late 1930s by Hamilton Fish III that were in support of Hitler and his regime. Fish’s congressional office distributed harmful anti-Semitic propaganda, and he made racist remarks against Jews. Fish spoke at a Nazi rally in New York where he strongly opposed U.S. involvement in World War II. The Wikipedia entry for Congressman Fish provides further detail on this chapter of his long life and political career.

Hamilton Fish III

Hamilton Fish III in front of the Capitol (Library of Congress)

The morning after Pearl Harbor, Congressman Fish denounced the attack and expressed his support for Roosevelt’s Declaration of War. He also later signed a House resolution condemning Germany’s abhorrent treatment of Jews. Fish was defeated for re-election in 1944 and never held elected office again.

As individuals, and as an institution, all of us associated with the Desmond-Fish Public Library, including descendants of Hamilton Fish III, strongly condemn all anti-Jewish actions, statements and beliefs. As citizens of our community and stewards of the Library, we are dedicated to working actively against racism, bias and discrimination in all forms.

We are committed to learning about and growing from our history alongside the community. Questions and comments are welcome at all times. Public comment is welcome at our board meeting on Saturday (Jan. 21) at 9 a.m. at the library. Alternatively, those wishing to discuss this matter are invited to contact Library Director Dede Farabaugh at [email protected] or Board President Anita Prentice at [email protected]

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