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Preface - Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family 
The Goodriches: An American Family (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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So many people go through life thinking all that’s around us just happened; that it didn’t take initiative, and imagination and effort. And it can be blown away, it can be discarded . . . very rapidly, never ever to come back again. It’s not just ignorant to be indifferent to history. It’s rude. It is being ungrateful . . . toward all those people who worked so hard to give us what we have here in this nation. And we have to not only be the custodians of that; we have to improve upon it.
david mccullough, “Chautauqua and Its Place in American Culture”
On the southern edge of Winchester, Indiana, lies the town’s main cemetery. If you wander through the oldest section, you come across hundreds of headstones engraved with many of the names of those who used to be the most prominent citizens of this community: Davises, Edgers, Goodriches, Jaquas, Kitselmans, Macys, McCamishes, Millers, and Moormans. Yet few of today’s local inhabitants recognize these names, let alone associate them with the establishment of the town. For the most part, either the individual descendants of these families have moved away or the families themselves have died out. It is sad that they are gone. It is sadder still that they have been mostly forgotten.
This book is about one of those families. While the primary focus is on James P. Goodrich, the twenty-eighth governor of Indiana, and his son, Pierre F. Goodrich, businessman extraordinaire and founder of Liberty Fund, Inc., the following pages also discuss these two men’s extended families and provide a narrative about the civic, economic, intellectual, and religious milieu in which the Goodriches thrived. The research I have undertaken in writing this book has increased my own appreciation of just how special this time period was in the formation of our nation’s character. I have also gained at least a partial understanding of how much the Goodriches’ story reflects “America’s story” of the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.
As a result of learning about this one family, I now see the community where the Goodriches gained their prominence in a completely different light: The east portico of the county courthouse not only is an entrance to a building, but also is the platform from which former President Theodore Roosevelt addressed a crowd of proud Americans at the turn of the present century; downtown Washington Street in Winchester is where Hoosier poet laureate James Whitcomb Riley amused children and adults alike with his homespun verse; the recently restored Civil War monument on the courthouse square is where Union veterans marched from surrounding villages in memory of the “Great Conflict” between the North and South; the steepled churches that are prominently located in this community are where Protestant values have been passed down to succeeding generations from early pioneer families.
It is within this context that the Goodrich family, and specifically James and Pierre Goodrich, are explored. It was not my original intent to draw from such a broad landscape. Indeed, this book was initially conceived as a biography of Pierre Goodrich. Given the achievements of the man, let alone his complexity, that would have been a sufficiently daunting task. Yet as I learned more about Pierre Goodrich, it became evident to me that it was next to impossible to comprehend him and his incredible range of interests without closely examining his father, his family, and his times. One example illustrates the need for a dual biography of father and son: It puzzled me why an attorney, businessman, and intellectual like Pierre Goodrich would take such an incredible interest in environmental matters, specifically land management. After I learned about his father’s ambitious conservation record both as governor and private citizen, however, Pierre’s interest in ecology made much greater sense. In addition, Pierre’s religious beliefs, his deep commitment to liberty, and his convictions about work, business, and virtue also stem largely, I believe, from his father’s tutelage, as well as from his extended family and the teachings of earlier generations of Goodriches.
The later chapters of this book are as much a social commentary on American life in the twentieth century as parts of a biography of two accomplished men. This is not an accident. It reflects my analysis of how James and Pierre Goodrich fit into the larger scheme of things. Biography is more than the recording of significant facts, dates, names, and events. It also involves placing the subject’s life in context—showing how the subject was shaped by his environment and vice versa—and it requires a considerable amount of interpretation. Moreover, writing history (and biography) is an attempt to analyze the origin and meaning of individuals’ ideals, motives, and wills. Sometimes the individual prevails; more often societal forces thwart individual initiative. This is the struggle that characterizes every life, and it is one that both James and Pierre Goodrich engaged in constantly on extraordinary fronts.
One caveat. As will become apparent, Pierre Goodrich’s thinking was somewhat convoluted and elaborate; still, an examination of his thought is crucial to understanding him and understanding why he believed that Liberty Fund—the institution he established and to which he bequeathed most of his fortune—was so important. I am mindful, however, that every “author who writes on a very complex topic is faced with a dilemma. If he writes simply, he is likely to be misunderstood. If he takes the greatest care not to be misunderstood by making his material formidable, he may not be read at all.”1 I have attempted in the latter chapters to describe Pierre Goodrich’s philosophical beliefs and the intellectual influences to which he was exposed. I have tried to strike a balance—not using so much technical language as to overwhelm the general reader or being so superficial in my analysis as to deprive Goodrich’s thinking of the serious study it deserves. It is not an easy balance to strike, and I ask in advance for the reader’s indulgence.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the directors of Liberty Fund and the Winchester Foundation for their support and assistance in the writing of this book. I would also like to acknowledge two authors who preceded me in examining the Goodrich family: Richard E. Wise, former publisher of the Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, who wrote a series of articles in 1984 about early generations of Goodriches;2 and Professor Benjamin D. Rhodes of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, who wrote an informative article about James Goodrich’s various trips to the Soviet Union in a 1989 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History.3 Professor Rhodes later expanded the article into a book.4 Although I was raised in Winchester and was familiar with the Goodrich family, it was not until I read these articles that I began to gain some insight into the Goodriches’ achievements and contributions. I hope that the following text will add to the public’s knowledge and appreciation of this family’s remarkable members.
I will close this preface with an anecdote. In July 1954, after years of debate on the subject, the commissioners of Randolph County, Indiana, decided to renovate the local courthouse, the very center, physically and civically, of this county’s activities. The decision was controversial because it involved tearing down the upper third of the building. This part contained a beautiful bell tower with four clocks and turrets—the ornamental structure that made the building especially handsome and visible for many miles in all directions. Over the years, local authorities had allowed the tower to deteriorate, and the commissioners believed that it was beyond restoration. Indiana is known for its beautiful courthouses, and Randolph County’s was a grand example of exquisite Victorian architecture, having been built in 1876. Though the commissioners lamented the decision, they believed that the upper third of the courthouse was structurally unsafe and should be removed.
When the wrecking crew went to tear down the tower, however, the task proved to be monumental. The tower was more structurally sound than anyone had realized. In fact, the tower was balanced on steel cables that, if properly tightened and periodically adjusted, could have supported the tower for decades to come. Over the years, however, no one had thought to convey this information to the later custodians of the building. Thus, a perfectly good and beautiful landmark was needlessly lost because no one had bothered to preserve the work of an earlier time or pass on “the story” to succeeding generations. I’ll not bother to explain my obvious point. I simply hope that the reader may find in the following pages that much of the “tower” of a particular family has been preserved—and that the effort was worthwhile.
[1. ]John C. Kemeny, A Philosopher Looks at Science (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand, 1959), p. 3.
[2. ]Richard E. Wise, “Family Has Had Profound Effect Locally,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, February 15, 1984, p. 4, col. 1; “Goodrich Grandfather Lived Eventful Life,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, February 16, 1984, p. 1, col. 2; “Goodrich Father Was a Public Spirited Citizen,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, February 17, 1984, p. 1, col. 2.
[3. ]Benjamin D. Rhodes, “Governor James P. Goodrich of Indiana and the ‘Plain Facts’ About Russia, 1921–1933,” Indiana Magazine of History 85 (March 1989): 1–30.
[4. ]Rhodes’s book, which evolved from his article about James P. Goodrich’s various trips to the Soviet Union, is James P. Goodrich, Indiana’s “Governor Strangelove” (Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press, 1996; London: Associated University Press, 1996).