Wells-The Colored Man

July 3, 1869


Black men and Wells both claim that Governor Wells is a friend to black Virginians. However, this is far from the truth; Wells is simply using the black men to gain more power.


Wells-The Colored Man-The Fifth Act As is always the ease in the fifth act of the drama, the bad man of our ultra Radical drama (Captain Wells) is being well covered up with exposures. His contraband trade, his deep plots, his double-dealing, his artful devices to rob honest people of their rights and compel his confederates by oaths and bv complicity in his guilt to stand by him iu his hour.of trial, are being unravelled, and he stands forth, just as the curtain is about to fall, as the object of execration by the general judgment, deprived of every tittle of sympathy front any quarter whatever. When he became Governor of Virginia his history was unknown to us. There were strong suspicions that he had thriven by collusions in the United States court, by which criminals had escaped justice; but these poor misgoverned Virginians were not disposed to subject to rigid scrutiny any new man, always hoping from the new something better than they had experienced from the last. Wells had stuck closely to the criminals and "ran" them to his great advantage, as $15,000 per annum income last year, when he only paid $2.50 tax in '65, clearly established. His bowels of compassion for the colored man had not moved him to speech-making for him, and he had not mixed in with him in public meetings nor elsewhere. No sooner was he Governor than he began to maneuver for winning the colored vote of the State. His game was to harness that new element to his car. He felt that it would be submissive and easily guided, and, like a great East Indian prince with his Sepoys, he would lead a life of grandeur and ease--regiments serving him at every turn, sheltering him from the sun, and repelling the insects from his sacred person. He sought an early opportunity to flatter the colored people. He soft-soldered them and marched old John Brown across the stage for their admiration. His artifice was successful. He was immediately installed--temporarily as it will turn out--a sort of god in the temple of the Richmond negro mob. By the same act he insulted and outraged the white people and cut himself off from their respect and sympathy. But that was nothing. His plan was to ride gently on the shoulders of the simple African, and enjoy the golden ease of authority, income, and servile attendance. But soon "thick coming fancies" came to disturb the great Governor with his superb schemes. What if these Africans should not be so subservient? What if they should desire to set up for themselves? ' He had flattered them. He had told them more than he should have done. He had praised their capabilities and told them that there was no restriction to their rights; that they were equal to all men. The right to hold office and the ability to discharge the dates of offlce were plainly inferable, and ' that was exactly what Mr. Wells did not mean to be inferred. He thought by humbugging the colored people so that he could control their whole vote he might easily keep his place by using the patronage of the Government amongst the whites-
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Ali O'Hara




“Wells-The Colored Man,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1404.