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Goldwater
The Man Who Made a Revolution
By Lee Edwards

Chapter One: Peddler's Grandson

At the close of World War II, political change was in the air. As historian Eric F. Goldman wrote concerning the 1946 congressional elections: "A nation which had quite enough of inflation and the Russians, of strikes, shortages, and the atom bomb, of everlasting maybe's about peace and prosperity, rose up in a hiss of exasperation and elected the first Republican Congress since the far-distant days of Herbert Hoover."

One group of euphoric Republicans, emboldened by the results, proposed to cut $10 billion from the budget, lower taxes, and abandon "the philosophy of government interference with business and labor." Led by Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, Republicans decided that a strongly partisan line in domestic policy would accentuate the differences between the two political parties and win them the White House in 1948. But external events like the communist seizure of Eastern Europe converted their partisan plans into bipartisan cooperation in the field of foreign policy, although not without heated disputes.

Still, the American intelligentsia were predominantly liberal. But the Left was jolted by the intellectual power and mass appeal of a little 240-page book, The Road to Serfdom, that appeared in the fall of 1944. Written by Friedrich A. Hayek, an emigre Austrian economist living in London, its thesis was devastatingly simple: "Planning leads to dictatorship," and "the direction of economic activity" inevitably means the "suppression of freedom."

Hayek proposed a different road, the road of individualism and "classical" liberalism, which he insisted was not laissez-faire but based on government, carefully limited by law, that encouraged competition and the functioning of a free society. Although Hayek stated that his work was " not intended for popular consumption," Reader's Digest condensed the book in late 1944 and arranged for the Book-of-the-Month Club to distribute more than a million reprints. Hayek became the center of a fierce controversy, with the New York Times Book Review calling The Road to Serfdom "one of the most important books of our generation" and The New Republic dismissing it as the darling of "reactionary" business interests. Young American servicemen like Robert Nisbet and Russell Kirk read Hayek and other classical liberals, along with libertarian mavericks like Albert Jay Nock, who titled one of his works, Our Enemy the State.

Convinced that traditional liberals should unite, Hayek convened a group of forty prominent European and American scholars in Mt. Pelerin, Switzerland, in April 1947. The mood of the conferees was somber, for socialism and statism dominated European governments and was on the march in the United States, despite the recent Republican capture of the Congress. Declaring that the "central values of civilization are in danger," the group defined its central goal as "the preservation and improvement of the free society" and named itself the Mt. Pelerin Society. Although the meeting was not reported on the front page of the New York Times, it demonstrated, as member and future Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman put it, that "we were not alone."

Six thousand miles from the snow-peaked mountains of Mt. Pelerin, in the middle of America's Southwest desert, a man who seemed to have everything knew that he did not. At age thirty-seven, Barry Goldwater was president of the most popular department store in Phoenix, blessed with a loving wife, four handsome children, and robust health, and surrounded by old friends in a sun-filled climate that drew tens of thousands of tourists and new residents every year. His days were a whirl of community activities - Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, YMCA, Masons, Community Chest. And he indulged himself in his myriad hobbies - flying a plane, operating a ham radio, photographing the people and places of his beloved Arizona.

When asked to help city or state, Barry Goldwater rarely said no: he organized the Arizona Air National Guard, served on the Colorado River Commission to help bring water for power and irrigation to central Arizona, and led a referendum for right-to-work legislation in the state. Goldwater was living the American dream to its fullest. Why, then, was he so dissatisfied? Why couldn't he settle down to the good life he had led before going off to war?

The Goldwater men had always been restless. His grandfather Michael left family and friends and an easy, secure life in London to search for his destiny in the gold fields of western America. His father Baron willingly exchanged the comforts and luxuries of San Francisco for the challenges and uncertainties of frontier Arizona.

Micheal Goldwasser was born in October 1821 in the central Polish town of Konin, one of twenty-two children. His father, Hirsch Goldwasser, was an inn- and storekeeper; little is known about him other than that he could not write. There had been Goldwassers in Konin for generations and a Jewish community in the town as early as 1412.

Michel showed an early interest in reading and politics, but he was deprived of formal education by Russian laws that forbade schooling for Jews. The young man became involved with a group of anti-Russian dissidents and decided to leave Poland rather than risk arrest or conscription into the czarist army. Michel traveled first to Paris where he worked as a tailor until the bloody revolution of 1848 drove him to London. There he learned English, changed his name to Michael Goldwater, and established a prosperous tailoring business.

One day, while walking a London street, Michael Goldwater, tall, muscular, and fair-haired, met Sarah Nathan, pretty and strong-willed, who managed the family fur-processing factory. After a short courtship, they were married in the Great Synagogue of London in March 1850. They soon had two children, Caroline and Morris, who was to play so important a part in the life of Barry Goldwater.

At this point, Michael's younger, free-spirited brother, Joseph, arrived from Poland and began talking about the wealth and adventure in the gold fields of California. Sarah, who much preferred her comfortable life in London, protested strongly, but Michael could not resist. Sarah finally relented when her two brothers promised to support her and the children until Michael was able to send for them.

In August 1852, thirty-one-year-oldBig Mike" Goldwater and his brother Joe, with one trunk between them, sailed from London. Like millions of immigrants in the nineteenth century, they arrived in bustling, crowded New York City, but immediately set off for San Francisco via ship and the isthmus of Nicaragua, the cheapest way at only $180 each. Many of their fellow passengers died during the hard trek across the 212-mile isthmus, much of it jungle, or of tropical diseases. But the two healthy Goldwater brothers arrived in San Francisco in November 1852 and found themselves among thousands of other new-comers lured by the glittering promise of the Gold Rush of 1849. Everything was new and raw and untamed in this two-year-old state of California.

Mike and Joe listened intently to the get-rich-quick stories of the gold camps and at last picked Sonora, located in the foothills of the Sier-ras, 100 miles east of San Francisco. They started a business that required a small investment and minimal space and that appealed to nearly every miner - a saloon. They rented space on the ground floor of a two-story wooden building, the upper floor of which housed the town's most popular bordello. Contrary to rumors that circulated in Barry Goldwater's political campaigns a century later, the Goldwaters never ran a whorehouse; the two businesses were separately owned.

The brothers worked hard, as Goldwaters always did, and within fifteen months, Mike had saved enough money to bring Sarah and the two children to California. Although she tried, the London-bred Sarah never adjusted to the rough life of Sonora. During her first six months there, there were twelve murders; Mike himself was accidently wounded, although not seriously, by an errant blast from a shotgun. At last, Sarah announced that the wild ways of a gold rush town were not for her and the children, now numbering four. It was the beginning, biographer Dean Smith writes, of a thirty-year period during which Mike and Sarah were separated for months and years at a time. They loved each other but could not reconcile Mike's search for fortune on the untamed frontier and Sarah's wish for security in California. Mike's problems multiplied. After several years of success, he fell into heavy debt when the gold mines around Sonora became exhausted, and he moved to Los Angeles where Joe was living. Approaching forty and close to penniless, Mike Goldwater in no way resembled the future founder of a business empire. But he was not a man to give up or in; he remained confident that somewhere, somehow, in this boundless new world where you could be anything, he would find success.

And soon. The Goldwater brothers heard about the gold strikes on and near the Colorado River. They speculated that an enterprising peddler with a wagon full of "Yankee" notions and specialty goods could prosper in the mining camps and towns. Mike, they decided, would take a wagon of goods to sell to the miners on the Gila River, 18 miles east of Fort Yuma. It was a 276-mile trip through barren desert and high mountain passes on a rough wagon road littered with the skeletons of cattle and broken spring wagons. After several weeks of hard travel, Mike crossed the river by ferry to Arizona City (now Yuma) on a fall day in 1860 and headed east to Gila City, the first Goldwater to set foot in Arizona, not yet a territory.

Gila City was a typical mining town, filled withover a thousand hardy adventurers" who turned the earth upside down looking for gold. They gambled, drank, and bought fancy and not-so-fancy wares. The city had everything, as historian J. Ross Browne describes, "but a church and a jail, which were accounted barbarisms by the mass of the population." Mike Goldwater quickly exchanged everything in his wagon for gold dust at a greater profit than expected and returned to Los Angeles with the good news.

In the early 1860s, Mike was peddling in Arizona, Joe was selling tobacco and candy in the Bella Union Hotel in Los Angeles, and both were running the hotel's bar and billiard parlor. The Goldwater brothers seemed on the edge of achieving solid success when suddenly a San Francisco creditor demanded immediate payment on a note totaling $6,500. Other creditors began clamoring for their money and soon Mike and Joe were stripped of all assets. After days of anger and fear, a good friend and fellow merchant, Bernard Cohn, who had started a general merchandise store in La Paz, 70 miles north of Fort Yuma, invited Mike to join him in the booming new town where the gold nuggets were as big as rocks. Mike started as an employee, soon became a partner, and five years later bought Cohn out.

During this period Mike made a significant political commitmen - the became a citizen of the United States on July 29, 1861. Although many residents of southern California favored the Confederacy, Mike supported the Union soon after news of Fort Sumter's fall arrived. On the home front, despite the heavy demands of business in Arizona, Mike frequently traveled to Los Angeles to visit Sarah and the and was present in May 1866 for the birth of their last child, Baron, who, forty-three years later, would father Barry Goldwater.

Brimming with confidence and with plenty of money in his pockets, the ever-restless Mike Goldwater branched out into other areas of business. With Cohn, he invested in a mine and undertook contracts to haul supplies to military posts in the interior of Arizona, which was proclaimed a Territory by President Lincoln on February 24, 1863. He added a freighting business and extended credit to a business they established in Tucson, many miles to the south.

In 1868, the Colorado River changed course, isolating La Paz. Undaunted, the Goldwater brothers moved their business downstream and named the new community Ehrenberg, after a close friend, Herman Ehrenberg, an early Arizona pioneer who had been murdered by Indians. A political precedent was established when Joe Goldwater became postmaster of Ehrenberg and a member of the first school board.

The Goldwaters established a grain hauling business that grew steadily, despite frontier dangers. One fine June day in 1872, Mike, Joe, and a Dr. Jones were returning from a business meeting in Fort Whipple, near Prescott, when a band of about thirty Mohave-Apaches ambushed them. During a wild four-mile chase, two Indian bullets hit Joe in the back and shoulder. Escape was looking dim for the fleeing trio when three ranchers appeared around a bend and began firing at the Indians, who abruptly disappeared into the suffounding hills. Dr. Jones extracted both bullets, and Joe retumed to San Francisco to recover his health. He had the rifle ball from his back made into a charm for his watch chain, which he wore until his death seventeen years later. I I

These Indian raids came with the territory and did not end until the famed chief Geronimo, who led bloody raids throughout Arizona and New Mexico, was banished in 1886. By then the Goldwaters, looking for a supply source closer to the interior towns and military posts, had decided to open a branch store in Phoenix, located in the Salt River Valley, which was becoming an important agricultural area for the territory.

The Goldwater store in Phoenix opened in December 1872, the year that President Ulysses S. Grant was reelected by the largest popular vote since Andrew Jackson in 1828. The manager of the new store was Mike's twenty-year-old son, Morris, who had come to Arizona after several years with a prominent hat company in San Francisco. Morris was a skinny young man with a flowing walrus mustache and sharp wit; he was energetic, ambitious, and shrewd. When he learned that a new telegraph line to Prescott was going to bypass Phoenix, he made the government an offer it couldn't refuse: he donated part of the Goldwater store as a telegraph office and offered to serve as a telegraph operator without pay. He introduced the first automatic telegraph recording instrument into the territory, demonstrating an affinity for electrical things that flowered in his nephew, Barry Goldwater.

Morris also displayed an early interest in community affairs, serving as deputy county recorder and running, although only twenty-two, for the territorial legislature as a Democrat. He and his Republican opponent tied, and when it seemed likely that he would be defeated in the runoff, Morris withdrew in favor of a well-known Arizonan; the alternate Democrat won handily. Morris's vote-getting ability and his graciousness in stepping aside were both noted by Democratic party leaders.

Meanwhile, the profits of the Phoenix operation did not meet Mike Goldwater's expectations, and in 1875 the first Goldwater store in Phoenix was closed. The Goldwaters were convinced that the center of Arizona trade and commerce was moving north to Prescott, the future capital of the territory.

The Prescott store was an immediate success. It was the first Goldwater store to carry a line of high-fashion goods and to adopt the motto, "The Best Always." At the insistence of Morris, who became manager in 1879, it began catering to ladies. Home fumiture, fumishings, and fancy goods rivaled liquor, tobacco, and flour. Among the store's best customers were the bordello girls, who frequently purchased champagne at $40 a case.12 Morris soon became as indispensable to the community as to the store, practicing what he often said-that successful people had the moral duty to repay, by whatever means, the communities that had helped make them. It was a belief that Barry Goldwater would take seriously seventy years later when he pondered how best to repay his city of Phoenix for what it had given him.

Biographer Edwin McDowell points out that Morris and his father Mike, now fifty-five and referred to as the "old gentleman," set a high standard of community service. They were the first to pled,e $5,000 in bonds for a railroad into Prescott, and Morris and two partners helped finance the construction of a railroad to Phoenix. Morris later helped develop mines and real estate throughout the territory and served as secretary of the Prescott Rifles, which protected the people from Indian attacks.

And then there was politics. Although only twenty-seven, Morris was elected mayor of Prescott in 1879 by an almost 2 to I margin. It was the first of his ten terms as mayor over the next forty-eight years. He also helped organize the Arizona Democratic party in the 1880s when the territory was under the control of a Republican administration. Known as a Jeffersonian or conservative Democrat, Morris later served as president of the twentieth Territorial Council and vice president of the crucial 1910 Constitutional Convention, which led to Arizona's statehood in 1912. Following statehood, he was president of the Senate in the second Arizona legislature. He often said, and later repeated to his favorite nephew Barry, that if a man believed firrnly in an issue, he should stay with it no matter what the odds or how heavy the criticism pounds, but he was determined to succeed at whatever he tried.

By the mid-1880s, Big Mike was talking about retiring. Then a group of Prescott citizens urged him to run for mayor. Flattered, he accepted and won. He launched a series of refroms that nearly rivaled the first hundred days of a future president. His measure to ban "B" girls from the bars of Whiskey Row was strongly supported by professional prostitutes who did not welcome the competition. He also supported building a wooden fence around the courthouse square to keep out stray cattle and backed a regulation that required wooden crossings at the downtown street comers.

Encouraged by the public response, Mike pushed through an ordinance requiring all property owners to put board sidewalks outside their property. Absentee owners protested - in many cases the cost of the sidewalks would have exceeded the value of the property. But Mike would not budge, even when urged by old friends. (The same stubbomness would often surface in his grandson Barry.) The man who had I'spent a lifetime conquering strange languages, strange customs, marauding Indians, and countless other hazards" could not adjust to the independent ways of a frontier town whose citizens would not be dictated to by anyone, even one of their founding fathers.

Mike pressed forward, and soon went one step too far. He had an altercation with Police Chief James Dodson and the city council and resigned. Within a year, Mike sold the business to Morris and retired to Sand Francisco, where he lived contentedly as respected patriarch in the Jewish community until his death in 1903.

The fortunes of the Goldwaters received an important lift in October 1882 when sixteen-year-old Baron, wearing a suit from Wannamaker's and smelling of cologne, arrived from San Francisco to take his place in the family business. His one-color outfits were the talk of the town: he was always in all gray, all brown, or all blue. But, as biographer Stephen Shadegg put it, "Baron may have been a dude, but he was no dunce." He quietly went to work as a clerk and spent a year analyzing the changing tastes and growing wealth of Prescott and the territory. Morris and Henry Goldwater were impressed, but they walted a decade before making Baron, at age twenty-eight, a full partner in Goldwaters. Meanwhile, Baron Goldwater, like his father before him, was looking for new lands to conquer.

By the mid-1890s, Prescott and Tucson had both been eclipsed in growth and economic importance by the farming community of Phoenix. The capital, which had been moved from Prescott to Tucson and back again, was shifted to Phoenix in February 1889. Baron became convinced that there ought to be a Goldwaters store in the most important city in the territory, but Morris was not so certain. Baron pressed his brothers until, the story goes, he challenged Morris to a game of casino to settle the matter and won. Henry wanted to manage the Phoenix branch, but Morris is picked Baron because of his flair and steadiness; he would be able to weather the ups and downs of a new enterprise.

Goldwaters, however, was successful from opening day in March 1896; women in particular enthused over Baron's sophisticated taste. Mike and Morris's store in Prescott had met the pioneer need for everything "from shovels to sunbonnets." The Phoenix store offered not only reliable merchandise at low prices but the latest fashions from New York and Europe. Baron decided that pleasing the ladies was the way to economic success. Once he had the new store running smoothly, Baron became active in the civic life of his adopted town. He was soon elected a director of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and saw the Sisters' Hospital (now St. Joseph's) through some financial difficulties. He helped establish the Phoenix Country Club, the Arizona Club and was a founder of the Valley National Bank.

In his late thirties, still trim and good-looking, Baron became the town's most eligible bachelor. His parents hoped that all their children would marry in the Jewish faith, but Mike's death in 1903 followed by Sarah's death in 1905 allowed them to marry whomever they wished.

Within two years, both brothers were wed, Morris to his Protestant landlady, Sarah (Sallie) Shivers Fisher, and Baron to a remarkably independent young woman from the Midwest, green-eyed, auburn-haired, Episcopalian Josephine Williams, on January 1, 1907. Neither man ever renounced his faith; Morris, in fact, stipulated in his will that he would have preferred a Jewish burial but since no rabbi was available, he would settle for a Masonic burial. They were sons of Moses who had found their Promised Land, after only twenty years in the wilderness of Arizona. Since there was little or no organized Jewish religion in those early days, Baron followed the Jewish custom of allowing his children to be raised in the faith of their mother.

© 1995 Lee Edwards

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