“You are nothing but what you aspire to be.”

“You are nothing but what you aspire to be.”

Lavinia Goodell, May 5, 1860

The fourth installment in Lavinia Goodell’s series of humorous articles giving young men advice on how to win a wife was published in the Principia  (her father’s anti-slavery newspaper) the week of her twenty-first birthday in 1860. With the Civil War looming on the horizon, the paper’s early pages contained an article by Rev. Henry Cheever titled “Way-marks in the moral war with slavery,” which discussed whether churches should excommunicate slaveholders, and a long letter from Thaddeus Hyatt titled “A word from the Washington jail.”( Hyatt was a staunch abolitionist who was imprisoned after refusing to testify about his knowledge of John Brown’s failed raid on Harper’s Ferry. ) In the face of such somber news, Lavinia’s pithy articles no doubt provided a breath of fresh air to Principia readers. She began:

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“I screamed ‘Fire’ and called to Pa”

“I screamed ‘Fire’ and called to Pa”

Lavinia Goodell, December 28, 1853

Fourteen-year-old Lavinia Goodell experienced two harrowing events in December of 1853. On December 10, while working in her father’s offices in lower Manhattan she witnessed the huge fire that destroyed Harper & Brothers publishing company. On December 28 she was again helping her father when a fire broke out in the next room.

William Goodell had moved to Brooklyn with his wife and daughter earlier in the year and began publishing American Jubilee, an anti-slavery publication, at 84 Beekman Street, in what is now New York’s financial district.

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“She succeeded far beyond my utmost expectations.”

“She succeeded far beyond my utmost expectations.”

Allan Pinkerton’s comment on Kate Warne

Although Lavinia Goodell and Kate Warne never met, in February of 1861 they shared a common interest: following the progress of Abraham Lincoln’s journey from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C.  On the afternoon of February 19,  twenty-one year old Lavinia joined throngs of other New Yorkers to watch the president-elect’s carriage procession in mid-town Manhattan. (Read her account here.)

While Lavinia was in Manhattan, Kate Warne, who was approximately twenty-eight years old and was in charge of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency’s Female Detective Force, was in Baltimore trying to ascertain if there were credible threats to Lincoln’s safety. It turned out that there were, and Kate helped thwart them.

Kate Warne
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