William Henry Ashley Photo

William Henry Ashley

Born: 1778

Death: Mar 26, 1838

Birthplace: Powhatan County

Nationality: United States

William Henry Ashley

Date of Birth : 1778
Date of Death : Mar 26, 1838
Birth Place : Powhatan County

William Henry Ashley was an American pioneering fur trader, entrepreneur, and politician. Though a native of Virginia, Ashley had already moved to Ste. Genevieve in what was then called Louisiana, when it was purchased by the United States from France in 1803. That land, later known as Missouri, became Ashley's home for most of his adult life. Ashley moved to St. Louis around 1808 and became a Brigadier General in the Missouri Militia during the War of 1812. Before the war he did some real estate speculation and earned a small fortune manufacturing gunpowder from a lode of saltpeter mined in a cave near the headwaters of Missouri's Current river. When Missouri was admitted to the Union Ashley was elected its first Lieutenant Governor, serving from 1820 to 1824 under Governor Alexander McNair. He ran for governor of Missouri in the August 1824 election, but was defeated. In 1822 Ashley and business partner Andrew Henry—a bullet maker whom he met through his gunpowder business—posted famous advertisements in St. Louis newspapers seeking one hundred "enterprising young men . . . to ascend the river Missouri to its source, there to be employed for one, two, or three years."

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