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Home > Archives > Published Articles > Adelbert Ames Presentation - Town Crier Article


This article was printed in the April 21, 2004 edition of the Tewksbury Town Crier.   The Tewksbury Historical Society would like to thank the Town Crier and reporter Stephen Bjork for their kind support of our activities.

 
  Tewksbury, April 21, 2004
 
  Tewksbury Historical Society
Library forum will explore life of General Ames


By STEPHEN BJORK
 
  TEWKSBURY - Civil War General Adelbert Ames, one of town’s most distinguished historical figures, will be the focus of a presentation by the Historical Society at the Tewksbury Public Library on Thursday, April 29.

Keith Rauseo, the society’s executive board member, has assembled vast quantities of information about Ames since he began his research last fall.

“I’ve always been interested in the Civil War, especially Gettysburg,” Rauseo says. “As a new member of the Board of Directors, last summer, I wanted to do something right away to get myself more immersed in Tewksbury history, so General Ames was a logical choice, based on my personal interests and his connection to the town.”

Ames was born in Maine in 1835 and graduated fifth, in a class of 34, from West Point in 1861. Graduating 34th in Ames’ class was the ill-fated General George Custer.

Ames was a Medal of Honor recipient for his conduct during the First Battle of Bull Run and continued to serve with distinction throughout the Civil War. He was not initially well liked by his men, but he won over their loyalty after leading them into battle, being the only regimental officer to have done so, at Fredericksburg. Thirty-six of his men were killed or wounded in that battle, and Ames was out in front of each and every one of them.

After the war, Ames was appointed as provisional governor of Mississippi by President Ulysses S. Grant for the Reconstruction. In 1873, Ames was elected as Mississippi’s governor following three years as the state’s senator.

Ames was a Republican, like Abraham Lincoln and Grant. The Democratic Party, at that time, was made up those sympathetic to the Confederacy and opposed to granting rights to former slaves.

“The Democrats, through the Ku Klux Klan, were prone to acts of violence and terror to keep blacks from voting, and in 1876 they usurped control of the state legislature,” Rauseo says. “The Democrats immediately approved trumped-up articles of impeachment against Governor Ames, accusing him of mismanagement and personal misdeeds while in office.”

Seeking to save himself and his family from the scandal and disgrace of impeachment, Governor Ames agreed to resign, provided the Democrats agreed to drop the impeachment articles.

“Ames left Mississippi, never to return, and the Democrats, while not moving forward with the impeachment, still published the charges in a final attempt to disgrace Ames,” Rauseo says.

Ames’ wife, Blanche Butler, was the daughter of Benjamin Butler of Lowell. Ames bought 700 acres on Prospect Hill in Tewksbury and eventually built the 17-room home known locally as “The Castle.” He split his time primarily between Tewksbury and Florida.

Ames passed away in 1933 at age 97, making him the last surviving general of the Civil War. He was buried beside his wife in Hildreth Cemetery in Lowell.

Perhaps the most important source of information for Rauseo’s research came from a biography of the general entitled “General Adelbert Ames, 1835-1933,” which was written by his daughter Blanche Ames for the express purpose of defending the family name.

“She wrote his book in the 1960s, primarily as a defense of her father, whose reputation had been besmirched by John F. Kennedy in his book, ‘Profiles in Courage’,” says Rauseo. “Kennedy bluntly criticized Ames’ governorship of Mississippi while defending the Democrats who had forced Ames from office.”

Rauseo describes the book as an excellent but predictably biased. Copies of the book can be found in the Local History Room of the Tewksbury Public Library. The Tewksbury Historical Society is in possession of a copy signed by the author.

Rauseo names several other books and sources that he consulted. He even gives a nod to the Town Crier.

“The Town Crier published a pretty good article on General Ames back in 1973,” Rauseo says.

The article can be downloaded from the society’s website at www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org/Archives/articles/index.html.

The public is invited to enjoy Rauseo’s presentation, which will be held at the Tewksbury Public Library on Thursday, April 29 at 7 p.m. The event will be the fourth in a series of presentations begun this past winter by the Tewksbury Historical Society.

For additional information, visit www.tewksburyhistoricalsociety.org on the Internet, or call 978-863-9989, or email the Society at Tewksburyhistorical@comcast.net.

© Tewksbury/Wilmington Town Crier, 2004