Ames, Oakes

Ames, Oakes,

1804–73, American manufacturer, railroad promoter, and politician, b. Easton, Mass. With his brother Oliver he managed the family's well-known shovel factory at Easton. The business grew under demands from the expanding Midwest frontier and the Western gold diggings. Active in founding the Republican party in Massachusetts, Ames served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1863 to 1873. Interested in the construction of the Union Pacific RR, Ames secured control of the Crédit Mobilier of AmericaCrédit Mobilier of America
, ephemeral construction company, connected with the building of the Union Pacific RR and involved in one of the major financial scandals in American history. Oakes Ames, Thomas C.
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 after ousting T. C. DurantDurant, Thomas Clark,
1820–85, American railroad builder, chief figure in the construction of the Union Pacific RR, b. Lee, Mass. He was successful in building railroads in the Midwest, and, after the Union Pacific was organized (1862) by an act of Congress, John A.
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, its founder. The financial scandals of that company brought upon Ames in 1872 public disgrace and the censure of Congress.

Ames, Oakes

(1874–1950) botanist; born in North Easton, Mass. He taught and performed research at Harvard (1898–1941). In 1900 he was instrumental in founding Harvard's Atkins Garden in Cuba. His skilled administration (1937–45) brought Harvard's Botanical Museum to prominence. He amassed a large collection of orchid specimens, his specialty, and made major contributions to studies of their taxonomy and evolution. A pioneer in economic botany, he devised the Ames charts in which plant families were pictured and identified by their economic products. His theory (1930s) that civilization was directly dependent on agriculture—eventually supported by archaeological findings—was summed up in his masterwork, Economic Annuals and Human Culture (1939).

Ames, Oakes

(1804–73) capitalist, U.S. representative; born in Easton, Mass. At age 16 he began working at Oliver Ames & Co., his father's shovel factory, and when his father retired in 1844, he took over the company with his brother, Oliver Jr. Their business flourished, riding the waves of the California Gold Rush of 1848, the Australian gold rush, the westward exodus, and the Civil War. Active in politics, Oakes served in the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., Mass.; 1863–73). In 1865 he joined Crédit Mobilier, financiers of the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1872 he was investigated for selling Crédit Mobilier railroad stock to Congressmen below par value in order to influence their votes on behalf of the financial scheme. His actions were condemned by a House resolution in 1873 and he died soon thereafter.