(Nov. 11, 1831-Jan. 15, 1901). A native of Batavia, Ohio, Fishback was educated at Miami University (Ohio) and Farmers College in Cincinnati. Graduating from the latter institution in 1852, Fishback studied law with his father and was admitted to the bar at age 21. In 1857, he moved to Indianapolis and went into partnership with A. H. Conner. In 1858 and again in 1860 Fishback was elected prosecuting attorney of Marion County. In 1861, he was appointed agent for the United States in the payment of pensions, a post that he held for three years. In 1862, he went into practice with Benjamin Harrison, the future U.S. president, forming the firm of Harrison and Fishback.

Leaving his practice in 1870, Fishback and his cousin, Lewis Hasselman, purchased a controlling interest in the Indiana Journal, which had become the newspaper of the Republican Party. From 1870 to 1872, Fishback served as the paper’s editor. Selling their interest in the Journal in 1872, Fishback and Hasselman moved to St. Louis where they purchased the St. Louis Democrat. Following that paper’s failure, Fishback returned to Indianapolis and his law practice two years later. In 1877, he was appointed clerk and master of chancery of the United States courts for the district of Indiana. He held this position until his death.

From its founding in 1894 until his death, Fishback served as the first dean of the School of Law at the University of Indianapolis (a different institution than currently bears that name). He was also a member of the faculty. Fishback was the author of several books including A Plea For Honest Elections (1886), urging an end to electoral corruption in the state; The Lawyer In Literature (1892); and Recollections Of Lord Coleridge (1895). He was memorialized by the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley in his poem “William Pinckney Fishback.”

Revised February 2021

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