Joseph Goodman was born in Masonville, New York in 1838. He traveled to California with his father in 1856 and secured employment with Rollin Daggett, typesetting for The Golden Era, a San Francisco literary weekly. Goodman met fellow-printer Denis McCarthy, and the two traveled to Virginia City in 1861, where they acquired interests in the Territorial Enterprise.
In 1862, Goodman employed Samuel Clemens, an impoverished miner who had written clever letters to the Enterprise from Aurora. Regardless of Goodman's many accomplishments, hiring Clemens as a reporter made him known to history as the "discoverer of Mark Twain."
Goodman was a fierce supporter of the Republican Party and the Union during the Civil War. In 1872, he opposed William Sharon's bid for the U.S. Senate. Sharon purchased the Enterprise so his second run for office in 1874 could be successful. Goodman, ready to leave the Comstock, gave up the fight and resigned his position.
Goodman subsequently left Virginia City and took a seat on the Pacific Stock Exchange. He became managing editor of the San Francisco Post, tried growing grapes, founded a literary magazine, and wrote his memoirs. In an odd twist, he deciphered the Mayan calendar, publishing a book on the subject in 1897. To this day, archaeologists use the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson method to date Mayan sites. Goodman died in California in 1917.
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