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> 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
||Tewksbury, April 21, 2004
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
“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
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
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
Tewksbury/Wilmington Town Crier, 2004