Portrait of Oakes Ames by Matthew Brady
Jan 10th Saturday Mr Whitwell & Ames have not met again
to day Mr W called just as Augusta Helen Susan
& self were in the sleigh to take a ride We have
called at mothers Mr Horace & John Pool, Edwin
& wife here to tea Swept the parlor this morning
and put the house in order partially frosted a loaf of cake
for Augusta having made one of hers carried the frosting
over and made her a call while heating it
The boys presented their Father a gold pen & pencil
Oakes Ames turned 48 years old today, as did the local Unitarian minister, William Whitwell. Last year and again this year, Evelina was unsuccessful in getting the two men together to celebrate. Oakes Angier and Frank Morton gave their father a gold pen and pencil to mark the occasion, a fine gesture.
As Oakes closed in on the half-century mark, he presumably began to look beyond the confines of the work he and his brother Oliver Jr. did for the shovel company. The next generation, in fact, was being groomed to run O. Ames & Sons; Oakes Angier, as eldest son of the eldest son, was on deck to superintend the company whenever Oakes and Oliver Jr. decided to step down. He was learning every aspect of the manufacturing process. Oliver (3) and Fred Ames were at college, Oliver presumably honing the skills he would need to take over his father’s role in managing sales, while Fred was on a path to being the financial clerk or CFO we might say today. Frank Morton Ames was learning a variety of skills, too, although he was seen more as a spare man waiting to step in should his cousin or either older brother fail somehow.
What could Oakes do with his tremendous talent and energy? Clearly, the roiling politics of the day interested him. By 1860, his gregarious nature, quick comprehension and thirsty ambition led him to accept the nomination and election to Massachusetts Governor Andrew’s Council as representative from Bristol County. Two years later, by “a large popular vote,”* Oakes Ames was then elected to the Thirty-Eighth U. S. Congress, where he would serve for four terms.
In 1872, according to circumspect historian, Reverend William L. Chaffin, Oakes “declined a renomination.”* He died in May, 1873, shortly after the conclusion of Credit Mobilier, a national political scandal for which many held Oakes culpable. At the time, his natural candor and fearlessness worked against him and he was unable to dodge the political manuevering that placed most of the blame on him. That same brave honesty, coupled today with calmer, historical perspective, has since served to cast Oakes Ames in a better light.
* William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, p. 654