He was a partner from 1829 to 1847 with Nathan Peabody Ames in Chicopee MA as AMES MANUFACTURING COMPANY. Originally founded to manufacture swords and other cutlery for military use, the firm was possibly the first to begin silverplating on a large scale in America. In addition to general goods, they made large quantities of hotel and restaurant plate. They also became the first company to do large scale bronze casting, including the doors of the Capital building. After the death of his brother, James Ames continued to run the firm until 1874.
He appeared on the 1880 census taken at Chicopee MA, listed as a retired manufacturer.
James married Ellen Hughes. (Ellen Hughes was born on 18 Dec 1818 in Newburyport MA.)