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 James P. Goodrich, 29th Governor of Indiana


James P. Goodrich

Indiana Republican Party Chairman, 1901-1910

29th Governor of Indiana, 1917-1921

(Courtesy, Indiana State Archives, 1917)

THE INDIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY contacted Dane Starbuck in 2006 to write a 3,000 word biography of James P. Goodrich for its forthcoming book, The Governors of Indiana. It reached out to Dane because he had previously authored the Goodrich family biography and had learned much about the years that James P. Goodrich served as Indiana’s 29th Governor.

From 1917 to 1921, James Goodrich spearheaded many positive changes as Indiana’s chief despite the fact that much of his tenure was dominated by matters related to supporting the “boys overseas” during the “War to End All Wars.” Indiana had one of the highest subscription rates of volunteers to fight in World War I of any state in the nation.  Also, Goodrich’s Civil Defense Council, chaired by Will Hays, later U.S. Post Master General and Chairman of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, was held up by the U.S. Secretary of War as the epitome of such State defense counsels.  

During James Goodrich’s years in office, he advanced and signed legislation adopting Worker’s Compensation, absentee voting, establishing the state’s banking, commerce, and highway departments, signed the 19th Amendment ratifying the right to vote to all citizens regardless of sex, and overhauled Indiana’s unfair tax system that laid most taxes on property owners. Governor Goodrich also established the Indiana Department of Conservation (now known as the Department of Natural Resources), which went on to create and preserve more than 20 beautiful state parks. Many states throughout the country followed Indiana’s lead in preserving pristine land and converting the land into state parks for future generations to enjoy. 

James P. Goodrich is regarded by many authorities as one of the most successful governors in Indiana’s 200 year history. Goodrich went on to serve on important commissions for U.S. Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. The four years he served in the State’s highest office was just one achievement in an otherwise remarkable career as a business leader, philanthropist, and public servant.


Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich signs in his State House office the document ratifying  approval of the 19th Amendment. More than 20 suffragettes squeezed into his office, including these three, to witness the event while thousands of suffragettes celebrated throughout Indiana. January 16, 1920  (Photograph, Courtesy, Indiana Historical Society, 1920)


World War I funding unfolds. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Indiana Governor James P. Goodrich riding in a car in downtown Indianapolis to celebrate a War Bond parade for the purpose of raising funds to support the “boys overseas”. (Photograph, Courtesy, Indiana Historical Society, 1918)

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