"David Remington’s biography of Ashbel Fitch has rescued this Gilded Age statesman from undeserved obscurity. As a congressman from Manhattan and then as New York City Controller, Fitch was a shining example of probity and principle in an age not noted for these virtues. Issues such as the tariff and gold standard that usually cause a reader’s eyelids to droop come excitingly alive in this book, which offers surprising new perspectives on American politics in the 1880s and 1890s."—James M. McPherson, Princeton University
"In this richly detailed study, Fitch emerges as a talented and principled politician who followed an independent course—often at great peril—to fight for important causes like tariff reform and fiscal responsibility. In so doing Fitch encountered many of the great figures of the era, earning both the admiration of Grover Cleveland and the enmity of Theodore Roosevelt. Remington has opened a window on a fascinating chapter of Gilded Age America."—Edward O’Donnell, College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts
The concept of an “honest Tammany man” sounds like an oxymoron, but it became a reality in the curious career of Ashbel P. Fitch, who served New York City as a four-term congressman and a one-term city comptroller during the late nineteenth century. Although little known today, Fitch was well respected in his own day and played a pivotal role on both national and local stages.
In the U.S. Congress, Fitch was a passionate advocate of New York City. His support of tariff reform and his efforts to have New York City chosen as the site for an 1892 World Exposition reflected his deep interest in issues of industrialization and urbanization. An ardent defender of immigrant rights, Fitch opposed the xenophobia of the times and championed cosmopolitan diversity. As New York’s comptroller, he oversaw the city’s finances during a time of terrible economic distress, withstanding threats from Tammany Hall on one side and from Mayor William L. Strong’s misguided reform administration on the other. In Ashbel P. Fitch, Remington succeeds in illuminating the independence and integrity of this unsung hero against the backdrop of the Gilded Age’s corrupt politics and fierce party loyalty.
David F. Remington is a retired investment banker, Adirondacker, and amateur historian. He is the great grandson of Ashbel P. Fitch. He lives with his wife on the coast of Maine.
Series: Adirondack Museum Books
7 x 10, 352 pages, 34 black and white illustrations