Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Ames, Benjamin

(1778-1835) a Democratic-Republican from Bath, born October 30, 1778, was acting governor 1821-1822 and President of the Maine Senate in 1824.

He was born in Andover, Massachusetts and Harvard educated, moved to Bath in 1806 and was admitted to the bar in that same year.

He had the good fortune early in his career to secure as his patron none other than William King, “The Sultan of Bath.” This relationship was to propel him to success as both a lawyer and a politician but it was also to eventually be his undoing.

Appointed County Attorney for Lincoln County by Governor Sullivan in 1807, he held that post until 1811 when he was appointed Judge of the Common Pleas Court by Governor Gerry, a post which he held until 1814.

In 1820 he was elected as a Representative from Bath to the First Maine Legislature and subsequently chosen as its Speaker. Thus it was that the fourth President of the Maine Senate was also the first Speaker of the Maine House.

In 1824 Ames was elected Senator from Lincoln County and served then as Senate President.

In 1827 he was again elected to the Maine House from Bath, a term which proved to be his last in public service. Even though he became one of the busiest lawyers in Maine, Ames was evidently never much of an orator; being described by one of his contemporaries as: “dry as a remaining biscuit after a voyage.”

Sometime following his term as Senate President, Ames allied himself with the Wingate faction against King in an intraparty patronage squabble. The particular bone of contention between King and Ames was the Collectorship of the Port of Bath.

The quarrel grew in intensity and notoriety when each accused the other of supplying the enemy during the War of 1812. The long-range effects for Ames were disastrous. His business suffered and he fell into debt. Indebtedness evidently caused him to move to Cincinati in 1827 where he practiced law for about two years.

On his way home to Bath in 1829, he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered, dying at his brother-in-law’s house in Houlton on September 25, 1835 at the age of fifty-seven.

Source: Maine State Senate

Additional resources

*Ames, Wilmont Spofford. Robert Ames. Gardiner: Ames Typewriter Press, 1941, p.123.

*Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century. Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 384-386.

*Owen, Henry Wilson. The Edward Clarence Plummer History of Bath, Maine. Bath: The Times Company, 1936, pp. 147.

*Putnam, Cora M. The Story of Houlton. Portland: House of Falmouth Inc., 1958, p. 280.

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*Cited in Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors(accessed April 25, 2011)

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