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Chapter 1: An American Family - Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family 
The Goodriches: An American Family (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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An American Family
The [early] Americans were tough men fighting for a very tough idea. How they won their battles is a story for the schoolbooks, studied by scholars, wrapped in myths by historians and poets.
theodore h. white, “The American Idea”
Who were James P. Goodrich and his son, Pierre F. Goodrich? What about their family? No, they didn’t manufacture automobile tires. They were not related, at least not directly, to the B. F. Goodrich tire clan of Akron, Ohio. They were highly ambitious businessmen from Indiana, a breed emblematic of the American ideal that began with the Founding Fathers: men who possessed a vision of success and independence for themselves and their country and went out and worked hard to realize it.
It is understandable if you have never heard of them. Indeed, it would be surprising if you had. Both James and Pierre valued privacy. In James Goodrich’s case, this was highly unusual, because he had a public profile in politics during most of his life. As for Pierre, he eschewed attention even more than his father did. Just months before his death in 1973, Pierre told an interviewer, “I just never saw any need to have publicity. What good is publicity unless you plan to run for public office? And I never did.”1
Pierre was in many ways elusive, a person with a pattern of so little self-disclosure that even people who “knew him” were puzzled by the man. The late Henry Regnery, a longtime Chicago publisher, remarked, “I saw Mr. Goodrich on a good many occasions, traveled with him for several days in Europe, but I am beginning to wonder how well I really knew him.”2 Fred Young, a retired vice-president of Harris Bank in Chicago, responded in a similar manner:
As many times as he came to see me and as much time as I spent with him I now realize that I did not know the gentleman very well. He always came to the Harris Bank prepared to discuss what he wanted to discuss. He did not come to discuss Pierre Goodrich. . . .
Back in those days I was traveling extensively through Indiana selling our Investment Service to bank trust departments and insurance companies. I would look for occasions when it seemed advantageous to me to mention my good friend Pierre Goodrich. But the response invariably was, “Who?” I did not understand how a man could be so rich and so influential in his state yet seem to be so little known among people that you would expect to know him well. . . . [I]t is too bad that more people didn’t know him because he was one of the most phenomenal people that I have ever met.3
Similarly, James Goodrich preferred accomplishment to recognition. His brother Percy wrote in 1948, several years after James’s death:
[James] was an indefatigable worker and very earnest in everything he did and was one of the three greatest Governors the State ever had. . . . It is strange when there are so many school houses, roads, parks, etc. [in Indiana] that nothing was ever named in his honor and I am not desiring to blame anyone for it. I believe it was his reticence to appear in the limelight. . . . He would organize a crowd to go someplace to have a political rally and then at the last minute would slip out to do some obscure work elsewhere.4
James P. and Pierre F. Goodrich were members of a family that built a financial dynasty in Indiana that began with five Goodrich brothers in the 1880s and continued for nearly one hundred years. Both were attorneys and businessmen, and both were public-minded, but in different ways. Beyond being an entrepreneurial genius, James served as head of the Indiana Republican Party for nearly ten years (1901–10); as the twenty-eighth governor of Indiana (1917–21); and as an adviser to Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover, and to the national Republican Party. Pierre’s achievements were more restricted to business and intellectual pursuits. He was chairman of the board of the Ayrshire Collieries Corporation (1946–69), president and CEO of the Indiana Telephone Corporation (1934–73), president and CEO of Peoples Loan and Trust Company (1940–73), and director of dozens of other companies. He also served as an officer and director of numerous educational foundations, including the one that he established himself, Liberty Fund, Inc., of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Both men were driven, ambitious, stubborn, and indefatigable. For both, twelve- and even fourteen-hour workdays were not uncommon. In later life, Pierre occasionally worked all night just to prove to himself that he could still do it.5 “Pierre was one of the hardest working people I ever knew,” said Richard Swallow, chief engineer at Ayrshire Collieries for thirty-seven years.6
“It was hard to live up to his expectations,” stated Gilbert Snider, an attorney in Goodrich’s law firm, adding: “Pierre was so brilliant. What most people thought was the norm was the bottom for him. You sometimes got dismayed that you worked like a dog and to find it just barely reached his minimum standard.”7
After James Goodrich’s death, the former Indiana Appellate Court judge Charles F. Remy recalled the former governor’s work habits:
I was one of the judges of the Appellate Court, with offices in the Statehouse, and, therefore, was very familiar with the work of his administration. During [James Goodrich’s] term as governor, he was usually the first state officer to arrive at the Statehouse. Much of the time he was at his desk in the governor’s office at seven o’clock in the morning. . . . He gave his best he had every day, every week, every month, and every year of his four-year term.8
If the two men shared many similarities, they also possessed many differences: James Goodrich was a hard-hitting, decisive man, quick to analyze a situation and then to act.9 It was these qualities that made him such an imposing governor.10
Pierre . . . by contrast was, or appeared to others to be, laborious and tedious in arriving at decisions, often ambivalent and equivocal, sometimes mysterious. He worried and stewed about problems, consulted others, disregarded their advice once given, explored alternatives, checked and double-checked his own tentative conclusions. It was an exhausting process for those who worked with him. But when he acted finally, the results, for him at least, were almost always beneficial.11
The painstaking, almost soul-searching process by which Pierre made even the simplest of decisions revealed a man who, although essentially shy, desired to remain in control. A more charitable assessment of Pierre’s decision-making style suggests a conscious reason for his deliberateness. Professor Benjamin A. Rogge, who delivered the eulogy at Pierre’s funeral in 1973, stated at the memorial service, “[Mr. Goodrich] recognized that only when we were pressing him for a decision could he command our attention sufficiently to make us truly listen to and try to understand the philosophy behind all of his decision-making—a philosophy that he believed we, too, must understand and know how to apply if we were to be fully useful in our joint endeavors.”12 Alan Russell, who worked for Goodrich in the telephone industry and is now chairman of Liberty Fund, gave a slightly different response: “Pierre never made a decision. The proposer made the decision in the end. But you had a dialogue with Pierre until he knew you were going to reach the right answer.”13
In other words, Goodrich used the Socratic method of inquiry to induce the proposer to reach a conclusion. This approach could be maddening to traditional management types who simply wanted a yes or no answer. Pierre was no less enigmatic when it came to his demeanor. He could be taciturn or engage in a discussion for hours if the topic was about some business decision or, more likely, some philosophical insight that interested him. His father had little time for scholastic exercises. James Goodrich’s confident, aggressive, risk-taking nature would not tolerate such a roundabout approach. He looked for quick results. Thus, in terms of personality, the two men seemed, in many ways, to be opposites.
Their temperaments were also different. As a boy growing up in post–Civil War times, James Goodrich could be confrontational and a bit of a roughhouser. He was not afraid to get into neighborhood scraps when the need arose. Pierre, despite a tough-minded and businesslike exterior, was more sensitive and less prone to confrontation. He found it nearly impossible to fire an employee. Rather, he took a cautious approach when hiring employees, preferring to interview dozens of potential candidates for several hours each (sometimes for several days) in the hope that he could find just the right person for the position.14 Moreover, Pierre had an aesthetic appreciation far greater than that of his father. A close cousin of Pierre’s described his love of beauty as almost feminine.15 He knew all about cats, how they liked to be petted and nurtured. He had a love of music, art, and flowers, and was able to identify dozens of species of flowers by their botanical as well as common names. He became an aficionado of gemstones, coffees, and fine wines (despite being a teetotaler most of his life).16
James Goodrich was described by some as a peculiar man, balding, of medium height, bespectacled, and with searching eyes that seemed to hide what he was thinking. During the last twenty years of his life, he walked with the use of a cane as the result of an automobile accident that almost killed him while he was governor. James Goodrich was unquestionably driven, even up to the time of his death. In 1940, ill but having weathered the worst of the Great Depression, he was quoted as saying, “I know I am very sick and I know I am going to die. And I hate it terribly because I know there will be a lot of money made in the next few years.”17 The former governor was clearly aware of his money-making skills. In retirement, Goodrich once told an interviewer he had “to check on himself to keep from making too much.”18
Pierre was more distinguished and robust than his father. He had a mop of white hair, a rough complexion, somewhat cherubic cheeks, and a youthful disposition that lasted into his later years. He was generally serious, having what many described as a “strong personality” and a reserved, malcontent attitude. Yet Pierre would occasionally display a lighter side.19 Pierre, like his father, had a penchant for making money, but he was driven by other motives as well. Nobel Prize–winning economist Milton Friedman, now a senior fellow with the Hoover Institution, fondly remembers Pierre for his depth of thought and strongly held views:
I was a personal friend of Pierre Goodrich and a great admirer of him. The occasion for my meeting him was a series of summer programs at Wabash College. . . . I recall many an exciting and pleasant evening spent discussing issues ranging over a very wide area with Pierre Goodrich. He was extraordinarily widely read, very knowledgeable, and deeply interested in a great variety of issues.
He had thought deeply about philosophical issues and was a convinced libertarian who believed in minimal government. Indeed, he would have liked a world in which there was no government involvement at all, in which primary reliance was placed on the free market as the best defender of human liberty. [H]e also was a remarkably keen student of current politics and economics. . . . That was the respect in which I enjoyed our conversations the most.20
The late Russell Kirk, prominent scholar and lecturer, remembered Pierre’s demeanor as noteworthy:
A certain austerity, a dry humor, and an uprightness of character were joined in him with a passion for booklearning. . . . He was what would be called in Europe a high bourgeois; but we have in Britain and America no proper equivalent of that term. Although very civil and interesting in conversation, he always maintained a dignity of demeanor and a certain reserve.
A stickler for punctuality, [Mr. Goodrich] once informed me that he had telephoned my library about nine o’clock in the morning, and nobody answered; he thought I might like to know that, since it suggests that my assistants might be unpunctual.21
Harold Rogers, a former history teacher at Winchester High School, Pierre’s alma mater, once remarked that a sign of Goodrich’s intelligence was that he knew his limitations and stayed within them.22 Rosanna Amos, a secretary to Goodrich, echoed Rogers’s observation: “Mr. Goodrich was not a speechmaker and he knew it.”23
Both James and Pierre had lilting voices that were not suited to public speaking. James abhorred making a speech and preferred the backroom maneuvering that made him such an effective businessman and political strategist.24 In this regard, father and son were alike. When Pierre did preside, he had the annoying habit of jumping from topic to topic in a stream-of-consciousness manner. It often made it nearly impossible for listeners to follow him. Jack Charles, a retired Wabash College history professor, recalls:
My chief involvement with Pierre was in connection with his enthusiasm for “Great Books” discussion groups. For a couple of years in the late ’40s I was driving all over Indiana to lead groups that Pierre had persuaded local citizens to organize; frequently he would decide to be my co-leader. The result was disastrous. He was a very poor [discussion] leader, and when he intervened with some complicated and rambling question or comment the discussion ground to a halt.25
Fortunately, Goodrich learned, at least in business situations, to let others do the talking—men like his longtime law partners Albert Campbell and Claude Warren. “But as I quickly learned,” said Gilbert Snider, “Pierre Goodrich made all the decisions. In the meetings prior to the court or utility hearings it was very clear who had thought out what was to be said and the strategy that the presenting lawyer was to follow.”26
Despite this brief introduction, the questions remain: Why should we care about James and Pierre Goodrich and the Goodrich family? What about them should interest us to the point that it is worth our time to read a book about a family dynasty that is essentially gone? How does a study of them deepen our understanding beyond simple knowledge of the family itself?
I believe there are several answers to these questions. They are, however, not self-evident. They can be answered only after one has answered still other questions. First, how did five brothers raised as farm boys shortly after the Civil War create a financial dynasty that included various industries: agriculture, natural gas, coal, oil, telephones, banking, securities, newspapers, transportation? Second, to what degree did the circumstances and beliefs of the times—political, economic, ethical, and religious—contribute to these five brothers’ achievements? Third, what was James Goodrich’s role in leading the Republican Party in Indiana during the first twenty years of the twentieth century and the state generally during World War I, when he served as governor (1917–21)? Fourth, what essential role did James Goodrich play in the great Russian famine-relief program and in furthering diplomatic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1920s? Fifth, what tremendous social changes took place in the United States in the twentieth century that compelled Pierre Goodrich to establish Liberty Fund from the profits of the sale of the Goodrich companies? Sixth, why did Pierre Goodrich believe that the study of liberty is of central importance if our society is to withstand the growing political, economic, and social dependency that has earmarked the last half of the twentieth century?
An exploration of the above questions, I believe, enables us to gain greater insight into more than just the Goodriches. An exploration into these questions facilitates a greater appreciation for how the business, political, religious, and ethical values of a quintessentially American family were largely responsible for that family’s financial success, James Goodrich’s own political ambitions, and the belief systems of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americans in general. I believe that, for the Goodrich family, work in the business arena amounted to a calling. James’s and Pierre’s identities were largely shaped by what they did. The reader will also learn how family and physical location held a special place in the hearts of the Goodriches, helping to define their sense of identity both publicly and privately.
[1. ]Thomas R. Keating, “He’s Unknown—and Remarkable,” Indianapolis Star, April 12, 1973, p. 21, col. 1.
[2. ]Letter to author, April 29, 1992.
[3. ]Letter to author, October 12, 1992.
[4. ]Percy E. Goodrich, “Governor Jim,” Down in Indiana 61 (December 4, 1948): 1, Indiana Historical Society Library, Indianapolis.
[5. ]Irwin H. Reiss, interview, June 29, 1996.
[6. ]Richard Swallow, telephone interview, December 20, 1992.
[7. ]Gilbert Snider, interview, December 23, 1991.
[8. ]Charles F. Remy, “Governor Goodrich and Indiana Tax Legislation,” Indiana Magazine of History 43 (March 1947): 43.
[9. ]An example of James Goodrich’s decisiveness is his 1939 appointment of Francis Simpson and Claude Barnes, both of whom were directors of Peoples Loan and Trust Company, to investigate the value of a bank in Ridgeville, Indiana, that Goodrich was interested in purchasing. Before Simpson and Barnes could report to the former governor, Goodrich had already made the owners of the Ridgeville Bank an offer that they had accepted (Perce G. Goodrich, interview, November 9, 1992).
[10. ]Byron K. Trippet, Wabash on My Mind: Wabash College 1832–1982 (Crawfordsville, Ind.: Wabash College, 1982), p. 183.
[12. ]Benjamin Rogge, eulogy delivered at First Presbyterian Church, Winchester, Indiana, October 28, 1973. Copy in author’s possession.
[13. ]T. Alan Russell, interview, July 2, 1994.
[14. ]Lovett C. Peters, who worked briefly for Pierre Goodrich in negotiating the sale of the Ayrshire Collieries Corporation in the late 1960s, said that Goodrich had a very difficult time firing anyone (telephone interview, June 25, 1994). “Before Pierre Goodrich would hire a new person—and it didn’t make any difference what kind of job—he would interview them personally and sometimes the interview would go on for hours,” said Rosanna Amos (interview, December 23, 1991). Alan Russell stated that, for a top management position in one of his companies, Goodrich would interview a candidate for two to three days (interview, July 2, 1994).
[15. ]Florence Dunn, interview, July 18, 1992.
[16. ]Observations about cats—Anna Marie Gibbons, interview, December 23, 1991; observation about flowers—Don Welch, interview, December 16, 1991. Henry Regnery, a Chicago publisher, claims that he introduced Goodrich to wine in the mid or late 1940s (interview, October 3, 1992). Helen Fletcher confirms that claim in her letter to the author, June 18, 1996.
[17. ]The quote is taken from Benjamin D. Rhodes’s James P. Goodrich, Indiana’s “Governor Strangelove,” p. 14 (citing Indianapolis News, June 24, 1950). Irwin H. Reiss also told the author the same story, saying that Norman Kelb, a former president of the Ayrshire Collieries Corporation, had told Reiss that James Goodrich had told Kelb the same thing (interview, June 26, 1996).
[18. ]“Former Indiana Gov. James P. Goodrich Is Dead,” Winchester (Ind.) Journal-Herald, August 16, 1940, p. 2, col. 5; see also Benjamin D. Rhodes, James P. Goodrich, Indiana’s “Governor Strangelove,” p. 14.
[19. ]Most of these impressions of Pierre Goodrich’s appearance and demeanor were given by Professor Stephen Tonsor (interview, December 5, 1992), although a number of interviewees said many of the same things.
[20. ]Letter to author, December 19, 1991.
[21. ]Letter to author, February 8, 1992.
[22. ]Anna Marie Gibbons, interview, December 23, 1991. Rogers had made the comment to Anna Marie Gibbons after a Winchester Great Books meeting in 1948 or 1949.
[23. ]Rosanna Amos, interview, December 10, 1991.
[24. ]James Goodrich wrote in 1918 to his good friend Will Hays, Sr., then chairman of the national Republican Party: “I have reached the point where I despise, above all things to undertake to make a speech. It is drudgery to me and . . . I can be of so much greater service in other directions and let those who know how and like to, do the talking” (June 20, 1918, Will H. Hays Papers, box 4, Indiana State Library, Manuscript Section, Indianapolis).
[25. ]Jack Charles, letter to author, January 28, 1993. Moreover, Anna Marie Gibbons recalled another time when Pierre tried to give a talk at a Peoples Loan and Trust Company banquet. The banquet was probably on December 4, 1970, at the dedication dinner of the new Peoples Loan and Trust Company bank building. She said that the talk turned into a Socratic dialogue in which Goodrich started asking questions of the audience. To her recollection, no one responded but her. The “speech” finally evolved into a discourse between her and Goodrich, quite to the bewilderment of the other audience members (interview, December 22, 1992). A reference to Goodrich’s talk was made in a local newspaper. See “Economist Warns of Economic Dangers of Coming Decades,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette and Journal-Herald, December 5, 1970, p. 1, col. 3.
[26. ]Gilbert Snider, interview, December 23, 1991.