Wells's Generosity

May 27, 1869


Governor Wells's tries to say what will make everyone happy, but he only does what makes himself happy. He said he was against the disenfranchisement clauses but then he voted for them. White Virginians are so mad and sick of Wells.


Wells's Generosity. Very prominent gentlemen, whom we need not name, are warmly protesting against the injustice done to Governor Wells in the doubts expressed about his sincerity in his professions of hostility to the test-oath and disfranchisements of the Underwood constitution. They declare that before the committee of nine went to Washington Governor Wells exerted himself with General Grant to impress upon him the propriety of submitting these -clauses separately to the people whenever the constitution was voted upon. They go further and say that the Governor declared his decided opposition to those clauses. This is well. It is well to understand when Governor Wells played this generous part before the President. Now, after that, time he appeared before the Committee of Reconstruction, using all his ingenuity and influence to defeat the committee of nine in their effort to have these objectionable clauses submitted separately to the people. On the 20th January he said to the Reconstruction Committee : 'Now. we oppose any change at this time In the test-oaths (of the Underwood constitution) for the reason that it will he fatal to the reconstruction party. We believe that a number of white gentlemen in the State of Virginia, distinguished for their character and experience, have joined the Republican party within a short time, and have heroine our allies, if I am allowed so to express it: and we believe that striking out the test-oaths WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY FATAL TO THOSE GENTLEMEN We cannot desert them." And yet before that time, according to the honorable witnesses, his friends, he was concurring with them, and urging the President, as soon as he was installed, to suitmil these prescriptive clauses to a separate vote ; he professing himself to desire their excision from the constitution ! Was there ever such duplicity ? Much more in the same spirit with the above quotation was uttered by him to the committee. If his own friends, for his vindication, deem it necessary to represent him as sustaining the views of the committee of nine before General Grant, the regularly certified records of the Committee of Reconstruction prove that he was at the same time declaring that to submit the objectionable clauses separately from the constitution would be fatal to the Republican party and to the "respectable Virginia gentlemen" who had become its " allies." Now, with such proofs of double-dealing and treachery, who could trust Governor Wells ? He has been true to nobody. He has deceived General Grant, the Committee of Reconstruction, and the Virginia "allies," and is now endeavoring to deceive t he people of Virginia. But he is fast appreaching the cul de sac which his devices inevitably lead.
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Ali O'Hara




“Wells's Generosity,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1364.