Wells, David Ames, 1828–98, American economist, b. Springfield, Mass., grad. Williams, 1847, and Lawrence Scientific School, Cambridge, Mass., 1851. Early in life he wrote several popular books on science. In 1864 his pamphlet Our Burden and Our Strength, dealing with the financial problems of the Civil War, attracted considerable attention. While serving as special commissioner of the U.S. Revenue Commission he wrote a series of reports (1866–69) concerned particularly with indirect taxes. He favored free trade and opposed the federal income tax. He wrote many books and pamphlets, including Robinson Crusoe's Money (1876), Our Merchant Marine (1882), and The Theory and Practice of Taxation (1900).
See study by F. B. Joyner (1939).