|Goddard, Robert H. I. (Robert Hale Ives), 1837-1916
Colonel Robert Goddard (1837-1916) was a son of Professor William G. Goddard, newspaperman and first Chancellor of Brown University, and Charlotte Rhoda Ives Goddard. Through his mother’s line of descent, Goddard was related to the Ives family, who partnered with the Brown family in shipping, manufacturing, real estate, and banking through the Providence firm of Brown and Ives. He was a Brown University graduate in the class of 1858.
When the Civil War broke out, Robert volunteered, enlisted as a private, and fought in the first Battle of Bull Run. Then he was mustered out of service, but volunteered again a year later, this time serving as an aide on the staff of General Ambrose Burnside. He fought at the battles of Fredericksburg, Cumberland Gap, Blue Springs and Campbell Station, at the sieges of Knoxville and Petersburg, and he was present for Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. While many of his generation and comparable station in life sought commissions as officers with slight military burdens, Robert Goddard worked his way up through the ranks and participated in some of the most dangerous battles of the war. His war record was a true military record.
Had he wished, Goddard could have hired a substitute, but he chose to shoulder his responsibility himself. His actions are all the more remarkable because his personal self-interest and that of his family were directly affected by the Southern cotton economy that was decimated by the Civil War. Notwithstanding, he defied the conventional wisdom of his business interests in the Lonsdale Company by going to war against the very cotton plantation economy so vital to his economic well-being.
Reentering private life, Robert became president of Goddard Brothers, the managing agents of the firm of Brown and Ives, with mills in Blackstone, Massachusetts and in Smithfield and Warwick, Rhode Island. The deaths of his cousins, the Ives brothers, left the Goddards in charge of the family business enterprises.
Following the Civil War, the giant Lonsdale Company expanded at the Cumberland villages of Ashton and Berkeley, and at the Ann and Hope Mill. In addition to his textile ventures, Colonel Goddard served on the board of the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company and held controlling shares in the Providence and Worcester Railroad, that served his Blackstone Valley mills.
Goddard returned to active service in 1874 as a military aide to Governor Burnside, retiring with the rank of colonel in 1883. Like many local Civil War veterans, Goddard engaged in several civic activities. Unlike many other business leaders with Civil War experience, however, he refused to accommodate the political bossism of Charles Brayton, the politically dominant chairman of the Republican State Committee. Goddard became a leader in the Progressive movement in Rhode Island at the turn of the 20th century. Despite his Republican roots he joined with Democrats Theodore Francis Green and Amasa Eaton in the short-lived Lincoln Party of 1906. Colonel Goddard served in the state senate as an independent in 1907 and 1908, was a staunch supporter of Democratic Governor James H. Higgins, and ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a U.S. Senate seat in 1907 in a three-way race against Samuel Pomeroy Colt and George P. Wetmore.