The Goddard Papers: The History of a Nineteenth-Century Shipbuilder and Merchant


  • Frances Brennan Mystic Seaport Museum


In 1833 at age 21, William Warren Goddard joined his father’s Boston firm of shipbuilding and mercantile trade. This was the beginning of a very successful 41-year career that brought him much financial success and worldwide recognition. When he became sole owner, he began a changing of trade routes from transatlantic ports to those of North and South America. His commodity of choice was Chilean copper and copper ore. Not only did he trade in copper, he became the owner of copper mills in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. By 1850 when California achieved statehood, San Francisco had already become a destination for Goddard’s ships, and in the Port of New York he opened another office. Preserved papers in the Library at Mystic Seaport from Goddard to his captains and agents were written without fear of loss at sea. The surviving captains’ logs emphasize their loyalty, while graphically depicting the voyages.

Author Biography

Frances Brennan, Mystic Seaport Museum

Frances Brennan is a published poet and author. She is a long-time Library Fellow and volunteer at Mystic Seaport and has attended the Munson Institute’s program in maritime history. Her article in the Log of Mystic Seaport, "Hong Kong -The Time Line Closes" used the Museum’s archives to fashion a first-hand recounting of Britain's takeover. Her attendance, in the 1940’s, at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference inspired her later writings.