While there, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1842.
When he was a child, his family moved to Ohio, later relocating to Ottawa, Illinois. He later moved to Hennepin, Illinois, where he served as postmaster and later as a probate judge. Ames served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1851 to 1852.
After his term in the Illinois General Assembly, he worked as an aide to Joel Aldrich Mattesona.
In 1855, he was appointed to the American consulate in Hamburg, Germany as consul. While serving as consul, he negotiated a postal treaty with Germany.
In 1857, he arrived in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he started an insurance business. From 1861 to 1864, he served as the secretary of the Minnesota Senate.
He unsuccessfully ran for the Minneapolis School Board in 1875.
Ames died on February 12, 1897. He was buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. Minneapolis Mayoral Election, 1870 Ames 1,005 Paris Gibson 782 Henry G. Sidle 1 Write-Insurance and Scattering 7 Minneapolis Mayoral Election, 1871 Ames 1,083 Alfred Elisha Ames 557 Minneapolis Mayoral Election, 1873 George A. Brackett 2,188 Ames 1,362.