Congressional legacies

The Kean-Fish political dynasty

By Laurie Bennett

July 14, 2011 at 9:49am

We’re stepping away today from the current political scene to examine a dynasty that stretches from our lifetime to New Netherland.

The Kean-Fish clan has had a place in American government in every century since the days when New York was a Dutch colony.

The Fish side of the family tree is marked by a succession of men named Hamilton, four of whom were congressmen.

Hamilton Fish
Hamilton Fish

Hamilton Fish was a great, great, great-grandson of Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic governor of New York. Unlike their predecessor, the Fishes learned to hold onto power by sharing it.

Hamilton Fish was a U.S. senator, governor of New York and secretary of state under Ulysses S. Grant.

He was also the person who brought the two Republican families together, marrying Julia Kean, whose great-grandfather Lewis Morris signed the Declaration of Independence.

Julia’s brother John Kean sired two sons who became U.S. senators. His grandson, Robert Kean, served 10 terms in the House of Representatives before a failed run for the Senate. Robert’s son, Thomas, was governor of New Jersey and now chairs the Carnegie Corporation.

Political junkies will find more connections by expanding boxes in the map. We suggest, however, that you do this by viewing the larger version.

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