Thomas Fitch, US Congress

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Thomas Fitch

Birthplace: New York City, New York, New York, United States
Death: 1923 (84-85)
Decoto, Alameda, California, United States
Place of Burial: Hayward, Alameda, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Fitch
Husband of Mary H. Fitch and Anna Mariska Fitch
Father of Francis Fitch and Thomas Fitch

Occupation: lawyer and politician
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Thomas Fitch, US Congress

Profession U.S. Congressional Representative; lawyer; writer and newspaper editor; district attorney

Thomas Fitch (January 27, 1838 – November 12, 1923)[1] was an American lawyer and politician. He defended President Brigham Young of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other church leaders when Young and his denomination were prosecuted for polygamy in 1871 and 1872. He also successfully defended Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp along with Doc Holliday when they were accused of murdering Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury during the October 25, 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Fitch wrote for and edited a number of newspapers during his life and served in multiple political offices. He was a stout Republican and campaigned for Abraham Lincoln across Nevada. He developed a reputation as a capable lawyer and a terrific speaker and was nicknamed the "silver-tongued orator of the Pacific."[2] He was a member of the California State Assembly in 1862 and 1863. In 1864, he was living in Virginia City, Nevada, where he edited the Virginia Daily Union. He became friends with Mark Twain who credited him with improving his writing. Fitch was a delegate to the Nevada state constitutional convention and also served as a member of the Utah state constitutional convention. He was a member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1879.

He witnessed the laying of the first rail at the western terminus of the Overland Route in Sacramento and the last one at Promontory Point in Utah. He practiced law, mostly in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, moving frequently during his life among these states. He also briefly practiced law in Minnesota and New York. According to one obituary he was one of "the three great orators who kept California loyal to the Union during the Civil War".

short biography


  • A proponent of the coinage of silver (in relation to which see "Cross of Gold" > Wm. Jennng Bryan speech; also: Thomas Fitch's novel
    • wkipedia: The 1880s saw a steep decline in the prices of grain and other agricultural commodities. Silver advocates argued that this dropoff, which caused the price of grain to fall below its cost of production, was caused by the failure of the government to adequately increase the money supply, which had remained steady on a per capita basis. Advocates of the gold standard attributed the decline to advances in production and transportation. The late 19th century saw divergent views in economics as the laissez-faire orthodoxy was questioned by younger economists, and both sides found ample support for their views from theorists.

In 1890, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act greatly increased government purchases of silver. The government pledged to stand behind the silver dollars and treasury notes issued under the act by redeeming them in gold. Pursuant to this promise, government gold reserves dwindled over the following three years. Although the economic Panic of 1893 had a number of causes, President Grover Cleveland believed the inflation caused by Sherman's act to be a major factor, and called a special session of Congress to repeal it. Congress did so, but the debates showed bitter divides in both major parties between silver and gold factions. Cleveland tried to replenish the Treasury through issuance of bonds which could only be purchased with gold, with little effect but to increase the public debt, as the gold continued to be withdrawn in redemption for paper and silver currency. Many in the public saw the bonds as benefiting bankers, not the nation. The bankers did not want loans repaid in an inflated currency—the gold standard was deflationary, and as creditors, they preferred to be paid in such a currency, whereas debtors preferred to repay in inflated currency.

The effects of the depression which began in 1893, and which continued through 1896, ruined many Americans. Contemporary estimates were an unemployment rate as high as 25%. The task of relieving the jobless fell to churches and other charities, as well as to labor unions. Farmers went bankrupt; their farms were sold to pay their debts. Some of the impoverished died of disease or starvation; others killed themselves.

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Thomas Fitch, US Congress's Timeline

January 27, 1838
New York City, New York, New York, United States
June 26, 1859
Saint Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, United States