James Madison Wells

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James Madison Wells

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Rapides, LA, USA
Death: February 18, 1899 (91)
Place of Burial: Pineville, LA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Levi Wells, II and Mary Elizabeth Wells
Husband of Mary Ann Wells
Father of Thomas Montfort Wells; Mary Elizabeth Burgess; Charlotte Frances Laulette Wells; Caroline Josephine Wells; James Madison Wells, Jr. and 8 others
Brother of Montfort Wells; Elizabeth Malissa Gordon; Thomas Jefferson Wells; Martha Jane Texada; Mary Libley and 1 other
Half brother of William Rudolph Wells

Occupation: 20th Governor of Louisiana, 3rd military Governor of Louisiana of Union held territories during the Civil War, Lieutenant Governor, Chairman of the State Returning Board which reviewed election results
Managed by: Joel Scott Cognevich
Last Updated:

About James Madison Wells

James Madison Wells became Governor upon the resignation of Governor Hahn who left office to serve in the U. S. Senate. As Hahn's Lieutenant Governor, Well's pro- Union stance was no secret, his opposition to black civil rights was, however, less well known


As Governor, Wells took the side of those who wanted a mild Reconstruction: he supported President Andrew Johnson's plan of allowing quick Reconstruction led by former Confederates and he appointed ex-Confederates to office. In his first address to the legislature, he urged the end of public education and pushed for taxes from only blacks to pay for freedmen's schools.

In the second year of his term, Wells switched loyalties. He began supporting the policies of Radical Reconstruction which gave blacks the right to vote and urged the legislature to ratify the 14th Amendment and to fund black schools.

General Philip H. Sheridan, the head of the military district containing Louisiana, removed Wells from office. The districts had been created by the Military Reconstruction Act of 1867 and gave the Army power over civil authority. Sheridan did not trust Wells' unusual shift of allegiance.

The former governor returned home to Rapides Parish. He later held additional state offices, including Surveyor of Customs for the Port of New Orleans. He died in Lecompte in 1899.

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James Madison Wells's Timeline

January 8, 1808
Rapides, LA, USA
Age 27
August 9, 1838
Age 30
Age 31
Age 32
Age 33
July 1844
Age 36
Age 37
Age 41
Age 42