Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter 31: Defining Influences - The Goodriches: An American Family
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Chapter 31: Defining Influences - Dane Starbuck, The Goodriches: An American Family 
The Goodriches: An American Family (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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The little world of childhood with its familiar surroundings is a model of the greater world. The more intensively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more it will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life. Naturally this is not a conscious, intellectual process.
carl jung, The Theory of Psychoanalysis
If, as sociologists and psychologists tell us, individual character and values are formed at an early age, what does Pierre Goodrich’s upbringing reveal about him? Was there anything unique about his childhood and adolescent years that could explain his deep convictions and strong personality, or were these qualities achieved through experiences in later life?
Pierre F. Goodrich grew up in Winchester, Indiana, at the turn of the twentieth century and lived there until he was eighteen. He returned home at the age of twenty-five to practice law for the next three years of his life (1920–23). For Pierre, growing up in a small Hoosier town was nearly idyllic. His adolescence was filled with Tom Sawyer–like experiences, complete with opportunities for youthful adventure: fishing, sports and games, family outings, travel, and challenging intellectual pleasures.
Winchester was an incredibly homogeneous community and part of an almost equally homogeneous state. The town is located ten miles west of Ohio, near the beginning of what the Delaware Indians called the Wapahani (White River). At the time, Winchester was populated almost entirely by people of German, Irish, and English descent—no Jewish families and few blacks or Catholics.1 It was a world where a young boy had a great sense of security and support, crime was rare, people left their front doors unlocked, and distinctions between right and wrong were made early and often. Moreover, northern European cultural, social, and religious influences, especially Germanic notions of strict discipline, duty, and obedience to authority, were significant.2
The institutions that became an integral part of the Goodrich family’s lives—church, family, government, finance, and business—were all within a short distance of their homes. They were constant physical reminders of turn-of-the-century midwestern values. For instance, Pierre’s elementary and high schools were literally just down the street; in them, he gained an exceptionally fine early education.3 His grandmother, Elizabeth Goodrich; his kindergarten teacher and great aunt, Belle Edger; all four of his uncles and their families; and friends such as the Millers, the McCamishes, the Moormans, and the Jaquas lived within two blocks of his home. The Presbyterian church he attended was located across the street; the county courthouse and jail were two blocks west; the town library was two blocks north.
Moreover, Pierre’s father and his uncle Edward were presidents of two of the town’s most prominent banks. As to the spiritual life of the town, the Society of Friends meetinghouse, the Congregational church, the Disciples of Christ church, the Methodist church, and, of course, the Presbyterian church were all part of the neighborhood where Pierre grew up. Finally, there were the important institutions of politics and the military. Winchester and Randolph County, probably even more than most small rural American communities of the time, were deeply patriotic and political around the turn of the century. It was a community that had produced five Civil War generals.4 Nearly twenty-four hundred men (approximately one of every twelve residents) from the county had fought for the Union cause; despite deep opposition to violence, Quaker parents who were fervent abolitionists sent their sons off to fight against slavery. As a boy, Pierre would have known Civil War veterans such as John Macy, Sr., and Charles Jaqua, who shared wondrous stories about the battles at Chickamauga, Gettysburg, and Antietam.
This spirit and pride in military service spilled over into community celebrations. The two largest community events each year were Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) and the Fourth of July. On these important public holidays, thousands of townspeople gathered along Winchester’s broad streets. The main event was a jubilant parade in which bands played and regiments of the Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War veterans) marched from villages all over the county to the Winchester town square. On July 21, 1892, for instance, at the ceremony marking the dedication of the county’s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument, an estimated fifteen thousand people appeared, including Oliver P. Morton, Indiana’s Civil War governor, who grew up in nearby Centerville, Indiana. On October 11, 1900, an estimated ten thousand people welcomed Teddy Roosevelt to Winchester. Such patriotic gatherings—complete with windy speeches made with great spirit and love of country—continued well into the twentieth century.
Furthermore, politics was a religion in the small community, celebrated with as much enthusiasm and reverence as a country church’s gospel revival. At least four men who had formerly held the office of president (Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Herbert Hoover) visited Winchester during Pierre’s lifetime. The county had produced two governors (including James Goodrich) and a powerful United States congressman and senator (James Watson). Two men from the county also ran for president of the United States (Watson, in 1928; and Isaac Gray, who lost Democratic nominations to Grover Cleveland, in 1892, and to William Jennings Bryan, in 1896). Most of the time, Pierre’s father held leadership positions in the Republican Party at the county, state, or national level. Moreover, dozens of other men from Winchester held federal or state office positions, men such as Thomas Browne, John Macy, Sr., Enos Watson, Leander Monks, and Union B. Hunt, mentors of James Goodrich’s and names with whom Pierre would be very familiar.
I offer this brief local history to show the reader the rich environment in which the Goodriches grew up. The town’s institutions provided them with structure and support. I believe that these institutions emotionally and psychologically reinforced a value system that remained with Pierre into adulthood, but which he saw during his own lifetime severely strained and weakened. Times and conditions are so different today that it is difficult for most of us to appreciate the spirit, stability, and fraternity of community, family, church, and political involvement that existed during Goodrich’s formative years.
Pierre Goodrich grew up in a town where, if you were from a prominent family like his, almost everyone knew you. They knew your parents and probably your extended family. There were considerable societal pressures to conform to widely accepted customs; moreover, virtues such as honesty, integrity in business, and responsibility to one’s family and friends were also of serious import. How one was perceived and how one behaved were indivisible. The following excerpt about James Goodrich from a local history book published in 1914 tells us much:
Personally, James P. Goodrich is a gentleman of the strictest integrity, and his private character and important trusts have always been above reproach. . . . He has so impressed his individuality upon his county and state as to win the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens and has become a strong and influential power in leading them to high and noble things. Measured by the accepted standard of excellence, his career, though strenuous, has been eminently honorable and useful, and his life fraught with great good to his fellows and to the world. Unpretending as to piety, yet few men more dutifully fulfill the Master’s command to care for the needy—to minister unto the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry and speak cheer to those in prison. Many the circumstances in which his left hand knoweth not the generosity of his right. In fact, Mr. Goodrich is a well-rounded man in all directions, keen in business, forceful in public counsel, decisive in action, faithful to confidences reposed in him, a friend and well-wisher of all human kind.5
One’s first reaction, of course, is “what tripe!” No one could be that virtuous, and clearly whoever wrote this biography (probably Lee L. Driver, former superintendent of schools in Winchester) should have his head examined. One’s second reaction, upon slight reflection, is that the passage simply reflects the oratory of the time, the tendency toward flowery, exaggerated language. But let me suggest a third interpretation that does not necessarily contradict either of the first two observations. Who one was and how one was perceived were extremely important. If one did not live up to the esteem that one had in the community, he could lose face. The anonymity of contemporary life clearly mitigates this pressure.
Late in life, Pierre Goodrich recalled what it meant to be a small-town lawyer. In such a position, an attorney served as “an officer of the Court,” morally an agent of the judicial system, responsible for furthering truth and not obscuring it.6 Again, I believe the cynicism of modern society, in which to many the idea of lawyering and justice appear to be incompatible, hinders our understanding. Perhaps the atmosphere of the time was best captured in a letter written by a townswoman, Ella Clark. In November 1920, she wrote a young Winchester man, William Bales, who was then a student at the University of Michigan School of Law:
My Dear Bill,
There was much said about the dignity of the Randolph County Court and how it stood in the eyes of the state. I was glad to hear it and when I thought of the young lawyers at the bar and soon-to-be, John Macy, Pierre Goodrich, and yourself, with your father as judge of the Court[, it] makes me feel that as good as it may have been, the dignity will not only be maintained but the standard raised.7
I believe that Winchester—like most small towns of turn-of-the-century America—was a bastion of moral rectitude. Practicing attorneys with no formal legal education and law school graduates alike did not take classes or bar examinations in ethics. (Now, it seems that every profession from accountancy to real estate requires courses and seminars on morals and civility.)8 At the turn of the century, people were brought up in an atmosphere of religious and societal commitments, and they were expected to observe high standards of personal and professional moral conduct. I do not suggest that scandal and exploitation did not take place, but merely observe that they were rare. The scandalous and the exploitative risked being ostracized by the community, and the community was their world. Standards of responsibility were inculcated into an individual by family (nuclear and extended), church, neighbors, and business mentors. The idea that laws or a watchdog agency was necessary to coerce compliance with professional standards seemed alien to many businessmen of that day. It is clear that many people, including Pierre Goodrich, never accepted that such things were necessary, despite recognizing the abuses that brought such laws and agencies into existence.
Pierre’s view of personal responsibility is perhaps best reflected by the “gentlemen’s rule” that exists even today at Wabash College. Wabash does not have elaborate rules of conduct, as do many—perhaps most—institutions of higher learning. Rather than specifying what is appropriate student behavior, Wabash’s code simply states: “The student is expected to conduct himself, at all times, both on and off the campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen.”9 I think that Pierre Goodrich believed that any further elaboration or coercion of conduct (prior to a wrong being done) was unnecessary.
But the institutions that helped shape James and Pierre Goodrich’s beliefs and personalities have been severely eroded. Societal changes that took place during Pierre’s lifetime (and to a much lesser degree during his father’s) have dramatically decreased the influence of family, the church, the community, and the sense of patriotism and moral certitude that helped form people’s professional and personal behaviors. As a result, government has been viewed by those in political power—who are forced to deal with problems when others in society cannot or will not—as the remaining vehicle that can shore up the gaps that have developed as a result of the erosion of other character-forming institutions.
The erosion of family, church, and community can be readily seen. In James’s and Pierre’s young lives, family members and friends lived in proximity to one another. But today, family members and “close friends” (emotionally and psychologically speaking) are apt to live thousands of miles away. Neighbors, who are apt to be strangers, often have little to do with meeting emotional and psychological needs. Moreover, the increased acceptance of mobility and moral relativity has made it much easier for individuals to avoid family and community responsibilities. In a less mobile and more closed society, individuals accepted (or at least tolerated) those responsibilities.
Therefore, I believe the role of the extended family in the lives of James and Pierre Goodrich was extremely important, as the role that John Macy, Sr., had in serving as a mentor to James Goodrich, both as a young lawyer and politician, indicates. And even though James Goodrich was gone from home during a considerable period of Pierre’s adolescence, Pierre had the constant support of his uncles and aunts, his grandmother, his great-aunts, his cousins, and his friends. They all lived a few houses away. Is it any wonder that Pierre felt such a strong bond with and commitment to his family when he was placed in charge of the Goodrich financial empire in the 1940s?
In contrast to the community in which James and Pierre Goodrich grew up is modern society. In the latter, there is a tendency for the individual to draw inward, not to see himself or herself as part of a larger community. The individual, sensing isolation and the relativity of all judgment, is no longer guided by community and religious standards, but makes himself or herself the measure of all things. As a result, personal gratification and narcissistic pleasure become the primary pursuit of the individual.10 Is it any wonder that drug and alcohol addiction, divorce, crime, greed, and a sense of isolation and loneliness have come to be identified with modern times?
The decreasing significance and changing role of the church in people’s lives is another contributing factor. Quite simply, the church today does not function as it did in earlier generations. Society is suffering from the loss of commitment both to the institution and to the Christian ethic it extolled.
A review of the history of Protestantism in the Western world indicates that most new religious bodies originally were organized around a call to a high level of religious commitment. . . . As the decades roll past, the natural institutional tendency is to drift away from that call to high commitment. Gradually the focus shifts from Christian commitment to “taking care of the members.” Kinship and friendship ties, local traditions, institutional survival goals, real estate concerns and seniority replace Christian commitment as the guiding force in making decisions.11
All one has to do is look at Pierre Goodrich and his ancestry to see how true this observation is. Pierre’s grandmother, Elizabeth Goodrich, was a founding member of Pierre’s home church. James and Cora Goodrich were Sunday school teachers in that church for more than twenty-five years. The First Presbyterian Church of Winchester was a focal point of spiritual and social engagements for the entire Goodrich family. Yet the church’s significance faded during Pierre’s own lifetime. He himself admitted that he was a “backslid Presbyterian.” Pierre spoke and wrote in euphemistic terms about the “infinite creator,” but nowhere in his writings or during discussions I had with his associates and family did I learn that Pierre had deep spiritual convictions. He was a scholar of the Bible and extremely knowledgeable about world religions, but his pursuit of the spiritual always seemed to be scholastic, detached, and unemotional. Goodrich lamented that the modern clergy spent much of its time preaching the social (political) gospel of the times (civil rights and equality), yet there is no indication that he thought that the preaching of the traditional gospel would have a transforming effect as powerful as that of an understanding based on a study of secular thinkers such as Kant, Locke, and Lord Acton.
The above observations are not meant to criticize the Goodrich family, but to show how growing secularization drastically changed people’s beliefs and deeply altered society during Pierre Goodrich’s lifetime. Society’s problems are so widespread that even small-town America is not exempt from them.12 Moreover, in the past fifty years, government has allocated vast resources in an attempt to deal with the social crises society now faces, often with negligible results.13
Pierre Goodrich strongly challenged the trend against the growing statism that he saw. An examination of his heritage holds, I believe, at least a partial explanation. The idea of commitment to something outside oneself (family, community, neighbors, objective truth, and so forth) was inculcated in Goodrich and his family. What frustrated Goodrich was that he saw the power of the state over individuals’ lives growing in an attempt to shore up ideals and institutions. The state behaves in this way in order to provide at least some nominal guidance in people’s lives. Goodrich recognized, however, that the state merely compels people to act in a certain way without requiring the individual to understand why. The state does this almost solely by sanctions (for example, laws, taxes, and police) or by incentives (for example, social services and subsidies). It does little to educate people about citizenship. Goodrich believed that the use of coercion is in direct opposition to the exercise of individual understanding and will.14
[1. ]In the 1990 United States Census Bureau survey, residents of Randolph County listed their ancestry as German, 35.8 percent; Irish, 18.5 percent; English, 17.3 percent; American, 10.2 percent; Dutch, 4.3 percent. See Muncie (Ind.) Star, December 21, 1996, p. 1, col. 8.
[2. ]The strong German influence can be seen in an account in James Watson’s As I Knew Them. According to Watson, when he first ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1894 (the year Pierre was born), he was successful in defeating an incumbent of thirty years’ standing because he gave many of his speeches in German, the native language of many of his constituents. Watson had learned German from a boyhood friend (p. 6). Winchester’s midwestern value system is even more obvious when it is recalled that it is less than twenty-five miles east of Muncie, Indiana, the town that was chosen for a decade-long sociology study in the 1920s and 1930s by Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd because it represented “Middletown, U.S.A.”
[3. ]At Winchester High School, Goodrich’s curriculum included chemistry, geometry, United States and world history, Latin, philosophy, astronomy, calculus, trigonometry, English literature, and music, among other subjects.
[4. ]Four of the five men who became Union generals from Randolph County went on to have outstanding political careers. They were all living when James Goodrich was a young man, and they would have been well known to him, if not personally, then by reputation. Isaac P. Gray was a state senator for Randolph County (1869–73), governor of Indiana (1884–88), and United States ambassador to Mexico (1893–95); Thomas M. Browne served as chief clerk of the State Senate (1861), state senator (1863–65), Republican candidate for governor (1872), prosecuting attorney, and United States representative from the Sixth Congressional District (1876–90). Browne gave James Goodrich an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in 1881. Silas Colgrove, a colonel in the Twenty-seventh Indiana Cavalry, passed a stolen copy of General Robert E. Lee’s orders to General George McClellan, which resulted in the bloody battle at Antietam in September 1862. He later became a brigadier general but gained national prominence as the president of the military commission that tried the celebrated case of Horsey, Milligan, and Bowles, three Hoosier Knights of the Golden Circle who were accused of treason. He also served as state representative from Randolph County (1857–61) and Randolph County circuit judge (1873–79). Asahel Stone served as state representative (1848–49 and 1871–73) and state senator of Randolph County (1861–63) and was president of the Randolph County Bank in Winchester for more than twenty-five years; Jonathan Cranor, the least distinguished of Randolph County’s five generals, later moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1868. He moved back to Randolph County in 1872, where he operated a hardware store and served as a state deputy marshal. See “General Cranor” (summarizes the careers of all five men), Randolph County History: 1818–1990, pp. 211–12.
[5. ]John L. Smith and Lee L. Driver, Past and Present of Randolph County, Indiana (Indianapolis: A. W. Bowen, 1914), pp. 1523–24.
[6. ]Letter from Goodrich to F. A. Hayek, December 24, 1970. F. A. Hayek Collection, box 43, folder 22, Archives, Hoover Institution, Stanford, California.
[7. ]See Miriam Halbert Bales, We Pass the Words Along: A 300-Year Chronicle of the Bales Family (Muncie, Ind.: privately printed, 1984), p. 166. Ella Clark wrote the letter on November 16, 1920, to William Bales, who was engaged to Mrs. Clark’s adopted daughter, Jenny Jessup.
[8. ]See Richard B. Schmitt, “Ethics Courses for Lawyers Draw Comers,” Wall Street Journal, July 8, 1993, sec. B, p. 2, col. 2. At least one professional has realized the futility of teaching ethics as a series of “rules”: “For an ethics specialist, Mr. [Michael] Daigneault has surprisingly little use for the traditional rules of the game governing attorney conduct. Most of the rules, he says, are useless or ambiguous in guiding attorneys through the ethical minefields they face on a daily basis. Instead, he teaches virtues, and his lectures tend to be sprinkled with Kant, Confucius, and the Bible, rather than black-letter law” (ibid.).
[9. ]As quoted in Suzanne McBride, “Incoming Wabash Chief Plans Healing,” Indianapolis News, June 14, 1993, sec. A, p. 10, col. 3.
[10. ]See Joseph Beroff, Elizabeth Douvan, and Richard Kulka, The Inner American: A Self-Portrait from 1957 to 1976 (New York: Basic Books, 1981), pp. 14–25.
[11. ]Lyle E. Schaller, Twenty-one Bridges to the Twenty-first Century (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), p. 25.
[12. ]The Goodriches’ hometown of Winchester, Indiana, I believe, represents what has happened culturally, economically, and socially throughout America in the past seventy years. Whereas the physical appearance of Winchester has changed little from the time Pierre Goodrich was a boy, if one digs beyond the veneer of the town, the community is vastly different from the one Pierre left in the mid 1920s. At that time, in Pierre’s home county, single-parenting as a result of never being married or divorced was extremely rare. In 1990, however, although there was essentially no change in population since 1900, there were 882 single mothers in Randolph County; there were also 234 single fathers raising children. Crime in Randolph County has exploded. Not long ago the Randolph County circuit and superior courts had approximately fifteen hundred pending misdemeanor and felony cases. Randolph County is not unique. I would suggest that if you look at nearly any other community in America you will find similar statistics. The number of people who live together, drift apart, marry, divorce, live together with another, marry again, move to another city or town, get another job, and have several live-in relationships is staggering.
[13. ]In Randolph County, Indiana, the following social and economic agencies providing human services exist today (remember that this is a county of only twenty-seven thousand people): the Randolph County Division of Family and Children (food stamps, Aid for Dependent Children, juvenile and family services); the Randolph County Literacy Coalition; the Jay County–Randolph County Developmental Council (workshops for adults with mental disabilities); Randolph County Services, Inc. (agency for the handicapped and aging); Women, Infants and Children, Inc.; the Randolph County Extension Office; Randolph County Homemaker Services; the Randolph County Community and Economic Development Foundation; the Randolph County Home (for the elderly); the Randolph County Health Department; the Randolph County Step Ahead program; Headstart; Jobs Training Partnership Agency; Vocational Rehabilitation; the Dunn Mental Health Clinic; the Division of Disability, Aging and Rehabilitative Services; the Social Security Office; Area Six Community and Senior Services, Inc. (providing Meals on Wheels and nutrition sites for elderly); the Veterans Services Office; the Randolph County Weatherization Project; and the Victims Assistance Program. All of these organizations are either totally funded or receive some funding from federal, state, or local tax sources. The number of private social service agencies for drug and alcohol addiction, marriage and family counseling, and financial consultation is nearly as large. For a more thorough discussion of these services, see “Step Ahead Invites Community Interest,” Winchester (Ind.) News-Gazette, November 27, 1996, p. 1, col. 3.
[14. ]I believe that Pierre Goodrich was fully aware of the causes of the growth of the state. I also believe, however, that he may have overestimated the ability of the average individual to comprehend and withstand the incredible changes, complexities, and isolation produced by our modern technology-driven society. To his credit, I think Goodrich realized that ideas about liberty and our nation’s heritage have to be kept alive if our society is not to lapse into a kind of modern Dark Ages.