- Gideon Welles
Infobox US Cabinet official
United States Secretary of the Navy
March 7, 1861
March 4, 1869
Adolph E. Borie
Glastonbury, Connecticut, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1878|2|11|1802|7|1
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
spouse=Mary Jane Hale Welles
Politician, Lawyer, Writer
Gideon Welles (
July 1, 1802– February 11, 1878) was the United StatesSecretary of the Navy from 1861 to 1869. His buildup of the Navy to successfully execute blockades of Southern ports was a key component of Northern victory of the Civil War. Welles was also instrumental in the Navy's creation of the Medal of Honor. cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.cmohs.org/medal/medal_types.htm | title = Types of the Medal of Honor: 1862 To Present | format = | work = | publisher = US Army | accessdate = 23 Jul | accessyear = 2006]
Born in Glastonbury,
Connecticut, he was educated at the Episcopal Academy at Cheshire, Conn., and earned a degree at the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy at Norwich, Vt. (later Norwich University). He became a lawyerthrough the then-common practice of reading the law, but soon shifted to journalismand became the founder and editor of the " Hartford Times" in 1826. After successfully gaining admission, from 1827-1835, he participated in the Connecticutstate legislature as a Democrat. Following his service in the Legislature, he served in various posts, including State Controller of Public Accounts in 1835, Postmasterof Hartford (1836-41), and Chief of the Bureau of Provisions and Clothingfor the Navy (1846-49).
Welles was a Jacksonian Democrat, who worked very closely with
Martin Van Burenand John Milton Niles. His chief rival in the Connecticut Democratic Party was Isaac Toucey, whom Welles would later replace at the Navy Department. While Welles dutifully supported James K. Polkin the 1844 election, he would abandon the Democrats in 1848 to support Van Buren's Freesoil campaign.
Mainly because of his strong
anti-slaveryviews, Welles shifted allegiance in 1854 to the newly-established Republican Party, and founded a newspaper in 1856 (the " Hartford Evening Press") that would espouse Republican ideals for decades thereafter. Welles' strong support of Abraham Lincolnin 1860 made him the logical candidate from New England for Lincoln's cabinet, and in March 1861 Lincoln named Welles his Secretary of the Navy.
Tenure in Lincoln's Cabinet
Welles found the Naval Department in disarray, with Southern officers resigning en masse. His first major action was to dispatch the Navy's most powerful warship, the USS "Powhatan", to relieve Fort Sumter. Unfortunately, Lincoln had simultaneously ordered the Powhatan to both
Fort Sumterand Pensacola, Florida, ruining whatever chance Major Robert Andersonhad of withstanding the assault. Several weeks later, when William H. Sewardargued for a blockade of Southern ports, Welles argued vociferously against the action but was eventually overruled by Lincoln. Despite his misgivings, Welles' efforts to rebuild the Navy and implement the blockade proved extraordinarily effective. From 76 ships and 7600 sailors in 1861, by 1865 the Navy expanded almost tenfold. His implementation of the Naval portion of the Anaconda Planstrongly weakened the Confederacy's ability to finance the war through limiting the cotton trade, and while never completely effective in sealing off all 3,500 miles of Southern coastline it was a major contribution towards Northern victory. Lincoln nicknamed Welles his "Neptune".
Despite his successes, Welles was never at ease in the
United States Cabinet. His anti-English sentiments caused him to clash with William H. Seward, Secretary of State, and Welles's conservative stances led to arguments with Salmon P. Chaseand Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War, respectively.
Tenure in Johnson's Cabinet
After Lincoln's assasination Welles was retained by President
Andrew Johnsonas Secretary of the Navy. Welles ultimately left the Cabinet on March 3, 1869, having returned to the Democratic Party after disagreeing with Andrew Johnson's reconstruction policies but supporting him during his impeachment trial.
Later Life and Death
After leaving politics, Welles returned to Connecticut and to writing, editing his journals and authoring several books before his death, including a biography, "
Lincoln and Seward", published in 1874. Towards the end of 1877, his health began to wane. A streptococcal infection of the throat killed Gideon Welles at the age of seventy-five on February 12th, 1878. His body was interred at Cedar Hill Cemeteryin Hartford, Connecticut.
The Diary of Gideon Welles
Welles' three-volume diary, documenting his Cabinet service from 1861-1869, is an invaluable archive for Civil War scholars and students of Lincoln alike, allowing readers rare insight into the complex struggles, machinations and inter-relational strife within the President's War Cabinet. Although offering a unique and quite non pareil portrayal of the immense personalities and problems facing the men who led the Union to ultimate victory, the first edition (published in 1911) suffers from rewrites by Welles himself and after his death, by his son; the 1960 edition is drawn directly from his original manuscript. The 1911 version of his diary may be found on Google Books: [http://books.google.com/books?id=jsdFt7XOr9QC&pg=PR26&dq=welles+diary&lr=#PPR3,M1 Vol. I (1861-March 30, 1864)] , [http://books.google.com/books?id=Zaqe6XCgJsUC&pg=PA1&dq=welles+diary+%22volume+II%22 Vol. II (April 1, 1864-Dec. 31, 1866)] , [http://books.google.com/books?id=4RGDUlZ-SREC&pg=PA1&dq=welles+diary+volume+III Vol. III (Jan. 1, 1866-June 6, 1869)] .
Two ships have been named USS "Welles" in his honor. The Dining Commons at
Cheshire Academyand the Gideon Welles School in Glastonbury, Connecticutare also named after him.
Despite the persistent urban legend, he was not the great-grandfather of the
Academy Award-winning actor Orson Welles. Orson Welles’ father was Richard Head Welles, son of his paternal grandfather Richard Jones Welles; Gideon Welles had no son by that name. His sons were Hubert (1833-1862), John Arthur (1845-1883), Thomas G. (1846-1892), and Edgar Thaddeus Welles (1843-1914). The two families are unrelated.
* [http://www.mlwh.org/inside.asp?ID=200&subjectID=2 Mr. Lincoln's White House: Gideon Welles]
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/w5/welles-i.htm Gideon Welles] at the
Naval Historical Center
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5993736 Gideon Welles] at
Find A Grave
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Gideon Welles — Portrait de Gideon Welles par Mathew Brady vers 1860. Gideon Welles (1er juillet 1802 – 11 février 1878)[1 … Wikipédia en Français
Welles — ist der Nachname von mehreren Personen: Gideon Welles (1802–1878), US amerikanischer Marineminister Orson Welles (1915–1985), US amerikanischer Regisseur, Schauspieler und Autor Samuel Paul Welles (1907–1997), US amerikanischer Paläontologe… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Welles, Gideon — born July 1, 1802, Glastonbury, Conn., U.S. died Feb. 11, 1878, Hartford, Conn. U.S. politician. Cofounder and editor the Hartford Times (1826–36), he founded one of the first Republican Party newspapers in New England, the Hartford Evening Press … Universalium
Welles, Gideon — (1 jul. 1802, Glastonbury, Conn., EE.UU.–11 feb. 1878, Hartford, Conn.). Político estadounidense. Cofundador y director del Hartford Times (1826–36); fundó uno de los primeros periódicos del Partido Republicano en Nueva Inglaterra, el vespertino… … Enciclopedia Universal
Welles (name) — Family name name =Welles imagesize= caption= meaning = spring region =English origin =English related names =Well, Wells footnotes = Welles is an English language locational surname originating from Well, a village and mill in Lincolnshire. Its… … Wikipedia
Gideon Hawley — (1727 1807) was a missionary to the Iroquois Indians in Massachusetts and on the Susquehanna River in New York. BiographyHe was born in the Stratfield section of Stratford, now Bridgeport, Connecticut, in New England on November 5, 1727. The son… … Wikipedia
Welles,Gideon — Welles, Gideon. 1802 1878. American editor and politician. A founder of the Republican Party (1854), he established a partisan newspaper, the Hartford Evening Press (1856), and was U.S. secretary of the navy (1861 1869) during the Civil War. * *… … Universalium
Welles — noun United States actor and filmmaker (1915 1985) • Syn: ↑Orson Welles, ↑George Orson Welles • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actor, ↑histrion, ↑player, ↑thespian, ↑role player, ↑ … Useful english dictionary
Welles — I. biographical name (George) Orson 1915 1985 American film & theater director, writer, producer, & actor II. biographical name Gideon 1802 1878 American politician & writer III. biographical name Sumner 1892 1961 American diplomat … New Collegiate Dictionary
Welles — /welz/, n. 1. (George) Orson, 1915 85, U.S. actor, director, and producer. 2. Gideon, 1802 78, U.S. journalist, legislator, and government official: Secretary of the Navy 1861 69. 3. Sumner, 1892 1961, U.S. diplomat and government official. * * * … Universalium