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James Mitchell Ashley is Born

Today in Masonic history James Mitchell Ashley is born in 1824.

James Mitchell Ashley was an American politician.

Ashley was born in Pennsylvania. As a young man he was largely self taught in the elementary subjects. After working jobs clerking on Ohio and Mississippi river boats, Ashley settled in Portsmouth, Ohio.

In Portsmouth, Ashley became editor of the Portsmouth Democrat. He would later be admitted to the bar, he would not practice law though. Shortly after passing the bar he moved to Toledo, Ohio.

In 1858 Ashley was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives serving for a decade. During his time in the House of Representatives, Ashley was an active Abolitionist. Ashley traveled with John Brown's widow to his execution in 1859.

During his time in House of Representatives Ashley was the Chairman of the Committee on Territories and was instrumental in the creation and naming of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington state.

Ashley also wrote a number of bills. One abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, another was the Arizona Organic Act which split the New Mexico territory into New Mexico and Arizona. A common fear at the time was that Arizona would be become a slave state. In the Arizona Organic Act, Ashley specified that slavery would not be permitted in Arizona.

Ashley also introduced the first bill for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. During the passage of the 13th amendment, Ashley was the floor manager the Republican Majority and was instrumental in the passing of the amendment by 2 votes.

After losing the election 1868 for the House of Representatives, Ashley was appointed Territorial Governor of Montana which served as until 1870. In 1870 Ashley returned to Toledo.

Ashley was a member of Toledo Lodge No. 144 in Toledo, Ohio.