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Fisher Ames was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, on April 9, 1758. He attended the Dedham public school and also received private instruction before entering Harvard College, from which he was graduated in 1774. He became a lawyer in 1781, but his reputation was based more on his writings and speeches than his law practice.
Ames served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1788, and was a member of the Massachusetts convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Elected to the first U.S. House of Representatives, Ames went on to serve four consecutive terms (1789-1797). In Congress, Ames became a chief spokesman for New England merchants who were opposed to declaring war on Britain. Despite ill health, he delivered the crucial speech in the House in favor of ratifying Jay's Treaty. It is said that his eloquence was so impressive that opponents immediately called for an adjournment to break the spell his voice had cast. His ill health prevented him from seeking a fifth term.
After leaving Congress, Ames resumed his law practice in Dedham. He served as a member of the Governor's Council from 1798-1800, but declined the presidency of Harvard because of failing health. He died in Dedham on July 4, 1808, and is interred in the Old First Parish Cemetery.
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This page was last updated on June 02, 2017.