Michael Ames was a well known lawyer in Minnesota during its territorial period. He arrived in 1849 and set up shop in Stillwater, later moving to St. Paul, where he practiced alone or with others for the next twelve years. He served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 1851 and as a Democratic delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1857. He died on January 4, 1862, at age forty.
In court he was unflappable, deliberate, "cool" and so unfailingly courteous that he exasperated his opponents across the aisle. He became the subject of numerous stories told and retold over the decades. In a newspaper article in 1895, John B. Brisbin described him as "a man of most remarkable natural gifts, industry and ambition, and possessed of eccentricities which have stamped his individuality upon the minds of the older members of the bar more vividly than that of any other lawyer of his time."
This article concludes with recollections of Ames--actually collections of colorful anecdotes--by Brisbin, Thomas M. Newson and Frank Moore. It is a complete revision and expansion of the first sketch posted in 2010.