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Lawrence Godkin


Centurion, 1893–1929

Born 31 May 1860 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 5 December 1929 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Foote-Ward Cemetery, Guilford, Connecticut

Proposed by James C. Carter and Edward Cary

Elected 3 June 1893 at age thirty-three

Archivist’s Note: Son of Edwin L. Godkin

Seconder of:

Century Memorial

Lawrence Godkin was best known to the members who dropped in at the Century reading-room of an afternoon. In the groups which at that hour in war-time used to exchange views on the bulletins from the front, Godkin was almost invariably present. He was always more disposed to draw out the opinion of others than to set forth his own. Perhaps his manner of eliciting such judgment was a trifle magisterial; but Godkin had been a lawyer, and he also lacked the abounding energy of assertion that characterized his celebrated father [Edwin L. Godkin]. The Nation and the Evening Post of the elder Godkin’s day were cherished traditions of Lawrence Godkin also, but not as a working journalist. His practical approach to the problems of those publications was mostly in defense of libel suits, brought by individuals whose shoulders were smarting under the editorial lash. One of the younger Godkin’s opportunities was to co-operate with Choate in defending successfully a famous suit brought against the Evening Post by a pirating publisher, in days before international copyright. To the last, Godkin was particularly fond of describing Choate’s casual glance at the publisher’s list of captured English copyrights, his fixing at once on Farrar’s “Life of Christ,” and his reminder to the jury that the plaintiff, who had testified to a previous career as preacher and public moralist, had begun his literary piracies by “misappropriating the story of the Saviour of mankind.”

Alexander Dana Noyes
1930 Century Association Yearbook