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  Goodell, William
NameWilliam Goodell
, New York , United States
Website [Link]
Born October 25, 1792
DiedFebruary 14, 1878 (85 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedThomas Walker
Apr 29, 2004 10:16am
InfoWilliam Goodell, champion of the movements for anti-slavery and temperance, was born October 25, 1792 in Coventry, Chenango County, New York. His parents were Rhoda (Guernsey) and Frederick Goodell, a soldier of Gen. George Washington (1732-99). In 1803, Rhoda Goodell died, and William was sent to Pomfret, Connecticut to live with his grandmother Goodell, a convert of the English evangelist George Whitefield (1714-70). After five years in Pomfret, William found employment with a mercantile firm in Providence, Rhode Island. On January 1, 1817, age 19, he sailed as supercargo on a merchant vessel bound for Indonesia, China, and Europe. Returning to the United States in 1819, he entered the shipping business, living in Providence, Rhode Island, Wilmington, North Carolina, and Alexandria, Virginia. On July 4, 1823, he married Clarissa C. Cady, daughter of Josiah Cady of Providence.

When his venture in Virginia failed, Goodell gave up his business pursuits and devoted himself to the cause of temperance reform. After some years in New York City, where he had been a director of the Mercantile Library Association, he returned in 1827 to Providence to edit a reform weekly, the Investigator and General Intelligencer. The paper became connected with the National Philanthropist of Boston and was moved to New York City in 1830, where it was published as the Genius of Temperance. The paper had subscribers in every state and increased its subscriptions through Goodell's public lectures. At the same time, Goodell began to publish the Female Advocate to spur the reform of women, and the Youth's Temperance Lecturer, an early temperance paper for children.

Linked to Goodell's temperance crusade was his anti-slavery campaign. In Boston in 1833, Goodell helped to organize the American Anti-Slavery Society, with Arthur Tappan (1786-1865) as President. Goodell's circle also included abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-79) and poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92). The Emancipator, published under Goodell's name after 1834, soon became the Society's organ. In 1836, Goodell appeared before the Massachusetts legislature on behalf of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, arguing against the appeal of certain Southern states for legislation restraining the anti-slavery agitators. He became director of an anti-slavery paper in Utica, New York, the Friend of Man, which he edited for six years in Utica and Whitesboro. Here, he also published for one year the monthly Anti-Slavery Lecturer and began in 1842 the Christian Investigator. In 1840, he helped organize the Liberty Party.

In 1843, Goodell moved to Honeoye, New York, where he founded an independent congregation based upon his anti-slavery, temperance, and church union ideals. He was never formally ordained. He continued his political work, abandoning the Liberty Party to found the Liberty League in 1847. The League advanced Gerrit Smith (1797-1874) as its candidate for the presidency in 1848 on a platform of opposition to slavery, tariffs, land monopoly, liquor traffic, war, and secret societies. Smith declined the nomination.

At Honeoye and later in New York City, Goodell wrote extensively against slavery. His published works on the subject include Views Upon American Constitutional Law, in its Bearing Upon American Slavery (1844), The Democracy of Christianity (1849), Slavery and Anti-Slavery: A History of the Great Struggle in Both Hemispheres (1852), and The American Slave Code, in Theory and Practice (1853). In 1854, Goodell began editing the New York weekly, the American Jubilee, later titled the Radical Abolitionist, which was enlarged and published as Principia. Following the Civil War, Goodell preached occasionally and wrote for reform and religious papers. In 1869, he was among the organizers of the National Prohibition Party.

In 1870, Goodell and his wife moved to Janesville, Wisconsin to be near his children. He died on February 14, 1878.

William and Clarissa Goodell had two daughters. Rhoda Lavinia ("Vinnie") Goodell (1839-80) was an attorney in Janesville, Wisconsin. Clarissa Maria Goodell (d. 1899; enr. Oberlin 1846-47) married (1850) Lewis Phidello Frost (1824-93; A. B. Oberlin 1848, T. 1850), son of Mercy Fuller and Nelson Amasa Frost (d. 1860), who had heard evangelist Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) preach in Rochester, New York between 1824 and 1833. Clarissa and Lewis Frost had six children, of whom only three are identified. They were William Goodell Frost (1854-1938; A.B. Oberlin 1876), Professor of Greek at Oberlin (1876-92) and President of Berea College, Berea, Kentucky (1892-1920), Nelson Amasa Frost (1866-1931; enr. Oberlin 1880-81, 1883-84, prep.), and Willard Jerome Frost (b. 1869; enr. Oberlin 1888-95), an editor and minister from Williamston, Michigan.


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