James Mitchell Ashley

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James Mitchell Ashley
James Mitchell Ashley - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1859 – March 3, 1863
Preceded by Richard Mott
Succeeded by Francis Celeste Le Blond
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1869
Preceded by Carey A. Trimble
Succeeded by Truman H. Hoag
Montana Territory Governor
In office
April 9, 1869 – July 12, 1870
Preceded by Green Clay Smith
Succeeded by Benjamin Franklin Potts
Personal details
Born (1824-11-14)November 14, 1824
Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Died September 16, 1896(1896-09-16) (aged 71)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery (Toledo, Ohio)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Emma Smith
Children four

James Mitchell Ashley (November 14, 1824 – September 16, 1896) was a U.S. congressman, territorial governor of Montana and railroad president.

Early life[edit]

Ashley was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to John and Mary A. (Kilpatrick) Ashley. He married Emma Jane Smith[1] in 1851 and together they had four children. He is the great-grandfather of U.S. Representative Thomas W. L. Ashley and a number of other descendants, including James Ashley IV, a portraitist living in Chicago. James IV recently completed a portrait of his great-grandfather, which will soon be permanently installed at the University of Toledo Law School.

Ashley was mostly self-taught in elementary subjects. His early employment included clerking on Ohio and Mississippi River boats. In 1848, he settled in Portsmouth, Ohio, where he became editor of the Portsmouth Democrat. In 1849, he was admitted to the Ohio Bar but did not practice. About this time he moved to Toledo, Ohio, and became involved in the wholesale drug business.

Political career[edit]

James Ashley was an active abolitionist who traveled with John Brown's widow on the date of Brown's execution and reported the event in the still-extant local newspaper, the Toledo Blade. In 1858, he was elected to U.S. House of Representatives of the 36th United States Congress as a Republican. While in Congress (the 37th through 40th), he served as the Chairman of the Committee on Territories, and was instrumental on the creation (naming and borders) of the territories of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington. He also took an active role in supporting the recruitment of troops for the Union Army during the American Civil War.

During his term, he wrote a bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, introduced the first bill for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and initiated impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson (1867). He was defeated for re-election in 1868. During the Civil War, he authored the Arizona Organic Act. Ashley was the House Majority floor manager for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution in the House of Representatives, which he succeeded in passing by a margin of 2 votes on January 31, 1865.

Following his defeat, Ashley was appointed the Territorial Governor of Montana and served until 1870. He then returned to Toledo.

Ashley was the builder and president of the Ann Arbor Railroad.

In early 2010, Ashley was proposed by the Ohio Historical Society as a finalist in a statewide vote for inclusion in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol.


Ashley died September 16, 1896, in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan USA and was interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio USA.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b "James Mitchell Ashley". Find A Grave. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Richard Mott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Francis Celeste Le Blond
Preceded by
Carey A. Trimble
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Truman H. Hoag