A Model for Courage: The Life of Charles Goodell explores the life of the Jamestown-born politician who ascended to the U.S. Senate in a time of crisis only to lose his seat for standing up for what was right. Sept. 10 marks the 50th anniversary of Goodell’s appointment to the U.S. Senate to the fill the unexpired term of Robert F. Kennedy who was assassinated in June 1968.
The son of a Jamestown doctor, Charles Goodell excelled academically at Jamestown High School, Williams College, and Yale Law School. In 1953 he attended a luncheon and reunited with his hometown neighbor, Justice Robert Jackson which helped propel him into another career — public service. Goodell became a congressional liaison in the Eisenhower Administration’s Justice Department before returning to Jamestown to assume his own law practice.
Then, in 1959, after the death of Rep. Daniel Reed, Goodell was tapped by the local Republican committee to fill the vacancy and was elected in a special election that May. He served nine years in the House of Representatives until September of 1968, when Gov. Nelson Rockefeller appointed him to the U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated due to the death of Robert F. Kennedy.
Goodell made headlines as the first U.S. Senator to propose legislation calling for the withdrawal of troops from the Vietnam War, ostracizing him from many of his fellow Republican Party members. President Richard Nixon refused to endorse him, instead subtly supporting Conservative Party candidate James L. Buckley, who defeated Goodell and Democratic challenger, Richard Ottinger in a three-way race in 1970. He returned to public life in 1974 as chairman of President Gerald R. Ford’s Clemency Board. Upon his passing in 1987, then-Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan remarked, “I have not known a finer member of Congress.”
The exhibit features a panel-by-panel look at Goodell’s life, video clips from throughout his career, vintage campaign buttons and posters, and the American flag that flew from the United States Capitol the day that he was sworn in.