1826: Ichabod Goodwin to Samuel E. Coues

Ichabod Goodwin

This letter was written by Ichabod Goodwin, born in 1794 in South Berwick, Maine. After attending Berwick Academy, Goodwin moved to Portsmouth and at the age of 14 began his business training under Samuel Lord, a prominent Portsmouth merchant and ship owner. In 1817 Goodwin was sent to sea as supercargo aboard the ship ELIZABETH WILSON out of Portsmouth. He later served aboard the same vessel as 2nd mate, 1st mate, and in 1819 as Captain. 1821 Goodwin was Master of the ship HITTY and in 1824 he was part-owner of the ship MARION as well as Master for her maiden voyage in 1825. Goodwin’s last command was in 1832 aboard the ship SARAH PARKER which was named for his wife and of which he was also part-owner.

Goodwin was deeply involved in the shipping and ship building industries of Portsmouth. He was partial owner of many vessels, including INDIA (1833), SUSANNA CUMMING (1834), HINDOO (1835), JOHN CUMMING (1836), ISAAC NEWTON (1836), GOODWIN (1840), GLENDOVEER (1841), KATE HUNTER (1846), HOPE GOODWIN (1851), DASHING WAVE (1853), MORNING GLORY (1854), and ANNA DECATUR (1856). In 1852 Goodwin was appointed agent of the ship NIGHTINGALE to clear up a difficult financial situation, and at the same time he also acted as the owner’s agent in supervising construction of the ship RED ROVER. As an importer, Goodwin dealt extensively in salt, shipping an average of 14,000 bushels between 1826 and 1836.

Sometime during this period Goodwin joined with Samuel E. Coues, also of Portsmouth, to form the mercantile firm of Goodwin & Coues. It is this firm that most likely owned the ships MARY & SUSAN (1839-1844), WOODSIDE (1845-1847), FANEUIL HALL (1846-1849), CATO (1847-1849), COLUMBUS, and BARRINGTON, having a considerable business interest at any rate. Coues was also heavily involved in shipping out of Portsmouth and was part-owner of several vessels, including PERSEVERANCE, MARION, ANN PARRY, SARAH PARKER, INDIA, SUSANNA CUMMING, HINDOO, ISAAC NEWTON, GOODWIN, and GLENDOVEER. Goodwin & Coues enlisted the services of William H. Goodwin, possibly a relative, as Supercargo for several voyages, and William F. Parrott served as Master on some vessels as well as a business partner for others. William Whitney, of Boston, appears to have acted as Shipping Agent for many of these voyages.

The extent of Goodwin’s business association was immense and he was involved in a majority of the prominent enterprises in Portsmouth of the time. In 1832 he founded and organized the Portsmouth Whaling Company and was listed as President in 1839. In 1850 he was President of the Portsmouth Steam Factory, a 6-story Textile Mill containing 21,000 spindles and 450 looms. 2,500,000 yards of cloth were produced every year and the factory employed 380 people. Goodwin was also involved in the extension of the steam railway, serving as President of the Eastern Railroad in New Hampshire for twenty years, and as President of the Portland, Saco & Portsmouth Railroad until after 1871. His Presidencies and Directorships included several banks, utilities, and benevolent societies.

Ichabod Goodwin also had a significant political career, serving as a member of the New Hampshire legislature from 1838 to 1856, and as a member of New Hampshire’s Constitutional Convention in 1850 and 1876. Goodwin was elected Governor of the State of New Hampshire in 1859 and was re-elected in 1860, serving until June 5, 1861. Goodwin died in 1882 at the age of 87.

Source: Mystic Seaport Museum

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[Addressed to Samuel E. Coues, Merchant, Concord, New Hampshire]

Savannah [South Carolina]
18th June 1826

Samuel E. Coues, Esq.

My dear Sir,

Every arrival from Europe brings news of increased commercial distress and riots in the manufacturing districts. It is difficult to say where it will end. The business of the N. States must be more or less effected – and particularly the freighting interests. [I] fear the next year’s business for ships will be bad [and] presume the great rage in Portsmouth for new ships will this year be considerably checked. And should you do anything in the way of a contract, could it not be done late in the fall or even next spring to more advantage than at an earlier period. You have the least means of judging correctly of this course and will please do as you may think best. Also, you will be able to see what prospect there may be of getting what money may be wanted beyond what funds we may have. It would not be advisable to do anything that would involve us, and would it not be well to let Mr. Badger hold from ¼ to 1/3 part? We could probably manage his part in our own way and his being a man of property would give confidence to the concerns. But [I] will leave all this for you to manage as you may deem best & to contract with either Badger & Coe or, if you you should not think proper to contract this season, let all remain till business gets more settled.

I have negotiated Mr. Lord to sell my interest in the Hitty on her arrival home, if that is expected. I should be very desirous to have an interest in a new ship the next year and by the time we can get one under ____ times will probably be more settled. At the same time, [I] would not wish you to do anything that you do not see your way clear in.

We have 675 bags of cotton onboard & 200 more on the wharfe. Hope to be away the latter part of the week. I am anxious to be off. Am more unwell than I have been for several years – not so but I am able to keep about. My complaint is a velon [felon?] which, however, is getting better. The weather is very warm & oppressive  but perfectly healthy.

I rec’d a letter yesterday from Capt. T. I. Harris at Charleston. Said he did not see the least prospect of a fat thime – freights will go down here. They are very dull at 7/8ths. Any [freighting] is all engaged at that rate & I consider myself fortunate. I hope soon to hear from you.

Very respectfully, your friend & obedient servant,  — Ichabod Goodwin

I have just seen a letter for Charleston by this morning’s mail quoting freight at 5/8ths offloaded – and verry dull more shipping here than would be wanted.

Inside the Ichabod Goodwin Mansion

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