Preserved Fish (1766–1846) was a prominent New York City shipping merchant in the early 19th century. He served as president of the Bank of America, which was unrelated to the current institution of that name, and an early broker of the New York Stock & Exchange Board. He was one of the leaders in the movement opposed to sabbatarianism in the United States.
His first name was properly pronounced with three syllables ("pre-SER-vedd"), and was a reference to being "preserved from sin" or "preserved in grace". His family, prominent in New York, also gave rise to Hamilton Fish, governor, senator, and secretary of state, and Stuyvesant Fish.
Preserved Fish was born in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the son of a blacksmith who was also named Preserved Fish. The blacksmith's father was Preserved Fish as well, but that Fish's father was named Thomas. As a youth, the younger Preserved Fish shipped to the Pacific on a whaler, becoming its captain at the age of 21. He did not take long to realize that a fortune lay in selling whale oil, not in getting it. He prospered as a merchant in New Bedford, Massachusetts, but had a political squabble and left for New York. He controlled a potent shipping firm named Fish & Grinnell – later became Grinnell, Minturn & Co – which had its beginnings in his efforts to expand his whale oil market. In 1812, he became a director of Bank of America, founded after the charter of the First Bank of the United States was not renewed. He also was one of the 28 brokers of the New York Exchange Board, which later became the New York Stock Exchange.
After his resignation from Fish & Grinnell and a brief retirement from business, he served until his death as President of the Tradesman's Bank. He was also involved with Tammany Hall: along with Gideon Lee, another banker, his faction controlled the Democratic Party in New York City at the time that the Loco Foco reformers attempted, unsuccessfully, to take it over.
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