William M. Ampt

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William M. Ampt

William M. Ampt, also known as Citizen Ampt[1][2] for his "staunch views on the duties of a citizen",[3] (February 1, 1840 in Trenton, Ohio – December 16, 1909 in Cincinnati, Ohio)[4] was a noted American lawyer.


He was born on February 1, 1840 in Trenton, Ohio to Francis Ampt of Hesse-Darmstadt and Kunigunda Rosa of Bavaria.[5]

After graduating from Oberlin College (as valedictorian) in 1862,[5] he attended the Albany Law School[4] and subsequently served as city solicitor of Lima, Ohio,[4] and, from 1871 to 1873,[6] as prosecuting attorney of Hamilton County, Ohio;[4] after his term as prosecutor ended, he never ran for office again.[6]

In 1870 he married Mary Eliza Gunckel.

In 1876, he played a role in the disputed presidential election, traveling to Florida, where he convinced electoral officers to reject votes from two pro-Tilden precincts in Hamilton County.[5]

Ampt was also a proponent of the constructed language Volapük, and was one of the two American delegates to the 1889 international Volapük convention in Paris.[7]

Caricature of Ampt, by E. A. Bushnell.

He died on December 16, 1909 in Cincinnati, Ohio.[1]

Upon his death, it was revealed that Ampt had bequeathed nearly his entire estate (worth $150,000 in 1909 money) to the city of Cincinnati, to sponsor free public concerts;[2] these concerts were still taking place as of 2012.[8]


  1. ^ a b "William M. Ampt". New York Times. December 18, 1909. Retrieved 2015-05-10. William M. Ampt, an attorney known to the people of Cincinnati as 'Citizen Ampt,' died at his home there Thursday night. His zeal for civic rights caused him to oppose the enactment and to attack the constitutionality of numberless laws. 
  2. ^ a b $150,000 For Concerts. "Citizen" Ampt Leaves His Estate to Give Music to Cincinnati.", at the New York Times; published December 23, 1909; retrieved May 31, 2014
  3. ^ A Good Citizen, in the Coshocton Daily Age (page 4); published 27 December 1909
  4. ^ a b c d Cincinnati, The Queen City, Volume III (pages 158-164), by Charles Frederic Goss; published 1912 by the S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
  5. ^ a b c Henry A. Ford and Kate B. Ford (1881). "William M. Ampt". History Of Cincinnati, Ohio, With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches. L.A. Williams & Co. Mr. W. M. Ampt, a lawyer by profession, was born in Trenton, Butler county, Ohio, February 1, 1840. Both his parents emigrated from Germany, one in 1832 and the other in 1837, the father coming from Hesse-Darmstadt, and the mother, whose maiden name was Rosa, from Bavaria. ... 
  6. ^ a b “When Is A Brothel Not a Brothel?” And Other Legal Niceties Debated In Cincinnati Courtrooms, by Greg Hand, in Cincinnati Magazine; published October 20, 2016; retrieved September 29, 2016
  7. ^ Editorial: Volapük Congress, in The Cincinnati Medical News (volume 18; page 352); edited by John Adams Thacker; published 1889
  8. ^ 2012 Tax Budget Of The City Of Cincinnati, Ohio, at the City of Cincinnati official website; retrieved May 31, 2014