Nicholas Fish papers  1775-1844
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Nicholas Fish papers (97 items) consist of letters and documents that span Fish's career as a Revolutionary War officer and New York City politician. The collection is made up of 87 letters and 10 documents and financial records.

The Correspondence series (87 items) is comprised of 14 letters written by Fish, 70 letters addressed to Fish, 2 letters to his son Hamilton Fish (1833 and 1844), and one item to the Committee of Defense of New York (August 4, 1815).

The series contains 52 items from Fish's military activities in the Revolutionary war (1776-1786). Forty-one of these letters are addressed to Fish as adjutant general of New York, 1785, regarding the raising and provisioning of troops to aid the first United States Army, commanded by Josiah Harmar on the frontier of the Northwest Territory. Discussed are transporting supplies, maintaining troop levels, defending the settlers of the region from Indians, taking prisoners of war, and punishing deserters. Fish received communications from the War Offices at Fort Schuyler; the Bronx; Albany; Philadelphia; and West Point. Many letters, notably, were from prominent American army officers, such as Secretary of War General Henry Knox, John Morin Scott (his former mentor), Major John Doughty, and Commissary of Military Stores Samuel Hodgdon. Of particular interest is a letter from Captain John Francis Hamtramck, who described catching and punishing 7 troops for desertion from Fort McIntosh in Western Pennsylvania (December 4, 1785), and another letter from Hamtramck, in which he discussed the poor treatment of the Six Nations hostages by the Americans in contrast to the civility shown Indian war prisoners held by the British (June 13, 1785).

A group of 36 letters relate to Fish's activities in New York politics between 1791 and 1830. These provide details of Fish's career as well as New York and American politics in general, including military affairs, the War of 1812, and presidential politics. On February 12, 1791, Fish wrote to President George Washington requesting an appointment as inspector for the district of New York. In his letter from March 10, 1794, fish discussed a dispute between Henry Dearborn and Theodore Sedgwick (March 10, 1794). In a letter to Fish, Jacob Radcliff expressed his support for Fish as New York alderman (November 8, 1810). Among letters written during the War of 1812, William Watson examined the role of Pennsylvania Germans in the Presidential campaign of 1812 (September 16, 1812); Fish wrote to James Madison concerning the punishment of Lieutenant William S. Cox for his part in the Chesapeake incident (after June 1, 1813); and Commodore J. Lewis, Chief Engineer Joseph G. Swift, and General George Izard all wrote letters regarding the defense of New York Harbor (May 8 and October 10, 1813, and August 4, 1815). (For a complete list of contributors, see the controlled access terms section.)

The Documents and Financial Records series (10 items) is comprised of military, personal, and official items.

Included are:

  • Two officer lists of the New York militia: one for the 1st Regiment (1775), and the other for the militia under Colonel John Lasher (September 25, 1776).
  • Fish's bank deposit book with the U.S. Bank from April 1792-June 1793 (8 pages).
  • Seven receipts for duties from the Supervisor's Office, District of New York, all signed by Fish (April 1795-February 1798).

Show all series level scope and content notes