Governor Wells

May 3, 1869


Governor Wells is a terrible governor. He has "disgraced" his appointment. Everyone hates him, even going as far to say, "if we ever dreamed that Governor Wells was worthy the good opinion of any man it was a great mistake.


Governor Wells. The Williamsburg Gazette has republished from the Dispatch some extracts of an article concerning Governor Wells which was written at the time of his appointment to the office he now disgraces. That article was based upon information given by friends of that gentleman, which was received kindly by the Dispatch first, because General Scofield's appointment was a strong recommendation; and secondly, because Governor Wells succeeded Governor Pierpont, whose then recent conduct in the political arena had been offensive; and therefore the feeling induced by the change was one of satisfaction. The disposition was to be a little blind to Well's faults, and a little kind to whatever virtues he might have. So; upon the authority of persons in the Wells interest, he was represented in a favorable light. His appointment was a surprise, agreeable though it was, and therefore that premonition of advancement which always elicits what may be said against a man was wanting. Nobody here could tell of his Alexandria tyrannies and suspected dealings; nor of his Michigan career. And even the prima fade evidence, of corruption in the United States District Court of this city was not well understood. Indeed, Governor Wells had in his personal Intercourse given no indication of his prescriptive opinions, nor had he intermeddled with the colored population, publicly imbuing their minds with feelings not compatible with social harmony and order. People were not curious about the docket of the United States Court. Lawyers endured patiently the entire monopoly by him of the cases for violation of the internal revenue laws (which disappeared so mysteriously), and everybody felt more or less satisfaction at his appointment. But the veiled prophet soon threw off his disguise, and appeared in all his hideousness. He abandoned all prudence--all considerations for public feeling and public decency--and in a tirade of demagoguism delivered to the blacks made that well remembered allusion to John Brown which provoked universal disgust. This paper immediately gave him a "first-rate notice." From that day Governor Wells has been growing no better. He has kept up a system of petty intrigues with disreputable persons--he has been engaged in constant schemes about offices, cutting up the prominent places of the Government amongst his followers, retaining the best for him-self--playing the game of removing disabilities, or rather, deluding and deceiving hundreds who were encouraged to hope for relief, and being ever on the run between this city and Washington, seeking to embarrass the commanding General here and tighten the cords that bind the people of Virginia. He and his lieutenants gave the General a vast amount of trouble, and their mutual criminations of one another were such that no man who heard them could have had the slightest confidence in any one of them. This is the Governor Wells so kindly received. This is the man who coolly told the Reconstruction Committee that the people of Virginia, whose bread he was eating, could not be trusted ; that if set at liberty they would persecute "loyal" men, &c. Of course, if we ever dreamed that Governor Wells was worthy the good opinion of any man it was a great mistake. It was a public wrong to give currency to such an opinion, and we ask pardon.
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Ali O'Hara




“Governor Wells,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023,