Clinton Fisk photo

Clinton Fisk
(Prohibition Presidential Candidate, 1888)

Clinton Bowen Fisk was born in Griggsville, New York on 8 December 1828; he died on 9 July 1890, in New York City.
     Fisk worked, generally, in the financial industry.  He was a banker in Michigan, an insurance agent in Missouri, and Treasurer of the Missouri Pacific  Railway and of the Atlantic and Pacific Railway. He was among the founders of the City of Harriman, Tennessee – a utopian settlement where beverage alcohol was forbidden – and of its American Temperance University.
     Clinton B. Fisk was also the founder of eponymous Fisk University, which began in 1866 as a school for liberated slaves. 
     He served as Assistant Commissioner of the (federal) Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned lands for the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, and he served on the Board of Indian Commissioners.  He was on the boards of trustees of Drew Theological Seminary, of Dickinson College, and of Albion College
     Fisk enlisted in the Union Army, rising eventually to the rank of Major General.
     Clinton B. Fisk was dedicated to the Cause of Prohibition for his entire life.  He left the Republican Party in 1884, because it did not support temperance strongly enough to suit him.  He ran on the Prohibition Ticket in 1886 for governor of New Jersey, in addition to being our presidential candidate in 1888.

-- Gammon (2007), pp. 41-42

Clinton Bowen Fish, the fifth candidate of the Prohibition Party for President of the United States, was born in Griggsville, Livingston County, New York, on 8 December1828 and died in New York City on 9 July 1890. His father, a blacksmith, removed to Michigan in 1830, and soon young Clinton, at the age of nine, was bound to a farmer, to serve until he was 21.  After a few years of service, however, his release was procured and he began a long course of hard study by himself, mastering considerable Latin unaided.  For several years he taught school at Albion, Michigan.  He began business life with L.D. Crippen, the leading merchant and banker of Coldwater, Michigan, and, in 1850, was married to Mr. Crippen’s daughter.  In the financial crisis of 1857 he lost most of his property, because of his determination that his bank should pay dollar for dollar instead of suspending.  In 1858 he removed to St. Louis and became interested in the fire-insurance business. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private, but advanced rapidly, until, at the close of the War, he had been made major-general by brevet “for faithful and meritorious services.”  The Fisk University for colored youth was founded at Nashville, Tennessee, largely through his instrumentality,
     After his resignation from the army, in the fall of 1866, he was engaged until his death in railroad management and the banking business.  For eight years he was treasurer of the Missouri and Pacific Railroad Company.
     General Fisk was a Republican up to 1884.  In that year, he joined the Prohibition Party.  In 1886, he was the Prohibition candidate for governor of New Jersey.  During the campaign, he traveled over 5000 miles and received 19,80 votes, by far the largest Prohibition vote ever polled in New Jersey before or since (1894).  In 1888, he was nominated for President of the United States by the Prohibition convention at Indianapolis, receiving in the election that followed 249,945 votes.
     Gen. Fisk’s benevolences and activities in religious, educational, and charitable interests were widely known.   In his youth, he was a devoted Abolitionist.  He was appointed by President Grant a member of the Board of Indian Commissioners; at the time of his death he was president of that body.  He was prominent as a Methodist layman, having been a delegate to the general conference of 1874 and also delegate to the Ecumenical Council in London in 1881.  He was also at one time president of the East Tennessee Land Company which founded the Prohibition town of Harriman.

— Data from An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895)

Also see bibliographies:

  • Foster, J.O. (1888) – Our Standard Bearer:  Life Sketches and Speeches of Gen. Clinton Bowen Fisk:  Chicago, Woman’s Temperance Publication Association
  • Hopkins, A.A. (1888) – The Life of Clinton Bowen Fisk, with a Brief Sketch of John A. Brooks:  NYC, Funk & Wagnalls