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GIDEON WELLES - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 08/27/1847 - HFSID 17294

GIDEON WELLES As a subordinate official of the Navy Department, he wrote this indignant letter to his boss, Navy Secretary John Mason, protesting the re-appointment of an accountant he considered incompetent. Welles declares that this "useless" employee will be fully occupied correcting his past mistakes.

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GIDEON WELLES
As a subordinate official of the Navy Department, he wrote this indignant letter to his boss, Navy Secretary John Mason, protesting the re-appointment of an accountant he considered incompetent. Welles declares that this "useless" employee will be fully occupied correcting his past mistakes. A remarkable letter reflective of Welles' temperament!
Autograph Letter signed: "Gideon Welles", 3 pages, 8x10. Bureau of Provisions and Clothing, 1847 August 27. To John Y. Mason, Secretary of the Navy. In full: "Your communication of the 23rd inst., directing me to 'assign to Mr. Pugh his appropriate duties as Bookkeeper', and to report to you 'at the end of the month in what manner he has discharged his duties', was handed me by Mr. Appleton yesterday. Under this order Mr. Pugh will, of course, resume his desk, and I shall endeavor, in other respects, to conform to your requirements. Although this arrangement is one in which I have had no part, and for which I am in no way responsible, I feel it my duty again to state, that I have no confidence in the ability or qualifications of Mr. Pugh as an accountant. His whole labor at the accounting desk has been comparative useless, and the first appropriate duty of the Bookkeeper, should be a thorough revision and correction of the errors he has committed. To make this revision and corrections, I do not consider him competent; and with this conviction, I should not be satisfied of their accuracy, until re-examined by another. There have been no entries on the ledger from the close of the fiscal year 1845-56. It is therefore nearly fourteen months in arrears. It would not, in my opinion, be advisable for Mr. Pugh, to make a commitment of the following year, until it was satisfactorily ascertained that past errors were corrected; but as the subject was taken from my control, I know not that there is any alternative. He certainly could not, in many months if ever bring the books into proper condition. The accountant's desk is in a very unfortunate condition, rendered so, because Mr. Pugh is not an accountant. An energetic, laborious and competent clerk is needed at that desk, for in addition to the ordinary duties of attending to current business, there are arrears of more than one year to be brought up, and there must be an exact review of everything that Mr. Pugh has ever done. I have already informed you verbally that I caused an examination to be made of Mr. Pugh's footings in the Ledger. In this examination over on hundred errors were detected, amounting in the aggregate to $254,587.93. I cannot but regret that, with these facts, and what has transpired for months past, that the order of the 23rd inst. was issued. But I must submit, when I have no power to control. I can, however, do no less than present my objections, and earnestly but most respectfully remonstrate against the continuation of Mr. Pugh in the place he has occupied. Very respectfully, your obedient servant". Gideon Welles (1802-1878) formerly a journalist and Jacksonian Democrat, joined the newly founded Republican Party in 1854 because of his strong opposition to slavery. An able administrator who deserves much credit for naval successes in the Civil War, he served as Secretary of the Navy throughout the Presidencies of Abraham Lincoln (who called him "Neptune") and Andrew Johnson (1861-1869). Although both were appointees of President James Polk, Gideon Welles had little in common with Navy Secretary John Y. Mason, a state's rights, pro-slavery Virginia Democrat. Welles would leave the Democratic Party in 1848 to support the Free Soil Party. The conflict discussed here, was probably a simple case of the efficient Welles resenting a political patronage appointment. Edges lightly frayed and toned. Otherwise, fine condition.

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