Goodell, William, 1792-1878

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William Goodell, a religious reformer, was born on October 25, 1792, in Coventry, New York, the son of Rhoda Guernsey and Frederick Goodell. Not having the money to attend college, he worked in various businesses from 1811-1827. However, he tired of that life, and being interested in writing, he decided to be a journalist. He became involved in various reform movements. At first, he focused his efforts on supporting temperance, but in 1833 he switched to the subjects of abolition and civil rights for African Americans. In 1840, he assisted in the formation of the Liberty political party and helped to keep it going even after most members merged with the Free Soil coalition. After the Civil War, he once again concentrated his efforts on promoting temperance and prohibition. Goodell married Clarissa C. Cady of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1823; they had two daughters. The younger one, Lavinia, was the first woman lawyer to be admitted to the Wisconsin bar. The elder, Maria Goodell Frost, was the mother of William Goodell Frost, a president of Berea College in Kentucky. William Goodell died on February 14, 1878, in Janesville, Wisconsin, to which he had moved in order to be near his daughters.

From the description of Papers, 1870?-1946. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 261233178

William Goodell was born in 1792 in Coventry, New York. At the age of 16, he found employment with a mercantile firm in Providence, Rhode Island and sailed for two years (1817-19) as supercargo on merchant vessels. In 1823, he married Clarissa C. Cady of Providence. For several years, he devoted himself to the cause of temperance reform, editing the Genius of Temperance, the Female Advocate, and the Youth's Temperance Lecturer. In 1833 in Boston, Goodell helped to establish the American Anti-Slavery Society, publishing the society's Emancipator under his own name after 1834. He became director of several anti-slavery papers in New York state and in 1840 organized the Liberty Party. In 1843, he founded a congregation in Honeoye, New York, based upon his anti-slavery, temperance, and church union ideals. In his later years, he wrote against slavery in numerous publications. He died in 1878 in Janesville, Wisconsin.

From the description of Family papers, 1737-1882. (Oberlin College Library). WorldCat record id: 26208971

William Goodell, a native of New York, was a prominent 19th century abolitionist and temperance reformer. Clarissa Maria Goodell Frost, eldest daughter of William and Clarissa Cady Goodell, was the mother of Berea College's third president--William G. Frost. Rhoda Lavinia Goodell, her younger sister, became, in 1874, the first woman lawyer admitted to the Wisconsin bar.

As a young man, William Goodell worked with merchant shipping firms and travelled widely in charge of cargo. Later, however, he turned to crusading for abolition and temperance, and either edited or published such reform-minded publications as The Investigator and General Intelligencer, Friend of Man, Christian Investigator, and Principia. Although never ordained, he founded a church in Honeoye, New York, in 1842, based on the principles of emancipation, prohibition and church reform, and was among those who organized American Missionary Society and later the National Prohibition Party. In 1870 he and his wife, Clarissa Cady Goodell, moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, then the home of their two daughters. Maria Goodell attended Oberlin College and married the Rev. Lewis Frost, who pastored churches in Wisconsin and Michigan. The couple had six children, but later divorced. Maria continued to live in Wisconsin, then joined a younger son in Oberlin, and finally moved to the home of her oldest son, President William G. Frost, in Berea. Rhoda Lavinia Goodell never married; she made her home in Wisconsin, obtained legal training there, and eventually established the right to practice law for women lawyers in Wisconsin.

From the description of The William Goodell Family Papers 1780-1892 1820-1878 (Berea College). WorldCat record id: 262971897

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alcott, William A. (William Andrus), 1798-1859. person
associatedWith American Abolition Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Anti-Slavery Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. corporateBody
associatedWith American Missionary Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Birney, James Gillespie, 1792-1857. person
associatedWith Black, James, 1823-1893 person
associatedWith Chapman, Maria Weston, 1806-1885. person
associatedWith Clay, Cassius Marcellus, 1810-1903. person
correspondedWith Davis, Edward Morris, 1811-1887 person
associatedWith Dike family. family
associatedWith Fee, John Gregg, 1816-1901. person
associatedWith Finney, Charles Grandison, 1792-1875. person
associatedWith Frost, Maria Goodell. person
associatedWith Frost, William G. (William Goodell), 1854-1938. person
associatedWith Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879. person
associatedWith Goodall family. family
associatedWith Goodell, Lavinia. person
associatedWith Goodell, Rhoda Lavinia, 1838-1880 person
associatedWith Green, Beriah, 1795-1874. person
associatedWith Grimké, Sarah Moore, 1792-1873. person
associatedWith Guernsey family. family
associatedWith Hall, William, 1808- person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Hutchins Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Jay, William, 1789-1858. person
associatedWith Jocelyn, Simeon Smith, 1799-1879. person
associatedWith Leavitt, Joshua, 1794-1873. person
associatedWith Lee, Ann, 1736-1784. person
associatedWith May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. person
associatedWith National Prohibition Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Eli, 1801-1857 person
associatedWith Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874. person
associatedWith Stanton, Henry B. (Henry Brewster), 1805-1887. person
associatedWith Stewart, Alvan, 1790-1849. person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Tappan, Lewis, 1788-1873. person
associatedWith Torrey, Charles T. (Charles Turner), 1813-1846. person
associatedWith Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895. person
associatedWith Wright, Elizur, 1804-1885. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (State)--New Lebanon
New England
Providence (R.I.)
Women lawyers--History
Religious poetry, American
Smithsonian Publications


Birth 1792-10-25

Death 1878-02-14



Ark ID: w65m741b

SNAC ID: 13231484