Anson Conger Goodyear


Photo: Francis Randall Appleton, Knickerbocker Club, Library of Congress; D570.85.N5 N66

American businessman and philanthropist. Born in Buffalo, New York as the son of influential businessman Charles Waterhouse Goodyear and Ella Portia Conger. He graduated from ­Yale University in 1899­, after which he joined the family business, including the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad – which harvested and processed timber from hard-to-reach ­areas through the use of rail transportation. In 1904 he married Mary Forman, with whom he had one child – George Forman Goodyear.

During World War I, Goodyear served in the National Guard with the rank of colonel. After the end of hostilities, Herbert Hoover appointed him as an American expert and advisor in Europe – entrusting him with the mission of organizing coal mining and distribution in Eastern Europe.

After returning to the United States, he continued his ­business activities on a ­large scale, also engaging in patronage and art collecting. He played an important role in the organization of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and after its opening served as its first director (1929–39) – which assured him a permanent place at the city’s history.

During World War II, he served with the American Red Cross, and later became an envoy ­to the U.S. Secretary of War ­to investigate the situation of American soldiers taking part in the war effort in the Pacific and Europe.

He is also the author of several books, including a guidebook published on the occasion of the organization of the New York World’s Fair – Gallery of American Art Today (with Grover A. Whalen, 1939), and The Museum of Modern Art: The First Ten Years (1943).


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Louisville, KY, 1918: Camp Zachary Taylor, a military camp where Anson Conger Goodyear served during WWI. Photo: General War-Time Commission of the Churches, Royal Photo Co., Library of Congress; PAN US MILITARY - Army no. 149 (E size) [P&P]

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Louisville, KY, 1918: Camp Zachary Taylor, a military camp where Anson Conger Goodyear served during WWI. Photo: General War-Time Commission of the Churches, Royal Photo Co., Library of Congress; PAN US MILITARY - Army no. 12 (F size) [P&P]

Coal rationaliser from overseas

On the way from Warsaw to Moravian Ostrava

May 25, 1919

[…] Dined magnificently at the American Headquarters, Palace Zamoyski – otherwise known as the Blue Palace. […]

In the morning I saw the Minister of Commerce and then three Germans, members of the Armistice Commission, who happened to be in Warsaw. I wanted to fix the distribution of Kattowitz coal before it came into Polish possession. I discovered the Poles proposed to cut off Germany entirely – give Austria what it is getting now – possibly a thimble to the Czechs, but almost all of it to themselves. I said this would not do at all, that the and I could not allow such a death blow to German industry. They saw the light at once. The Germans, very capable men as is usual with the beast of course, grasped the situation and invited me to Berlin for discussion. I accepted for next week, we clicked heels and parted. […]

The Poles are military mad, and I think they are riding for a fall, which Germany will probably give them some day. Quite naturally, the thing has gone to their heads. Yesterday nothing, and today a nation of thirty million with hands grasping a more territory that would make them forty million. The combination of parties is very queer – military and socialist led by Pilsudski, nobles and peasantry led by Paderewski. Everyone is most enthusiastic over the latter. He is the first statesman of Europe east of France today, and he has a very stormy job.

I had decided that I wanted to stay on. It was an interesting job. […]

In a telegram to Hugh Gibson

[Katowice] August 1919

[…] However situation in Kattowitz very critical but reports of hostilities between Poles and German troops apparently untrue. There has been a good deal of rifle shooting across the border but no occupation of either Polish or German territory by either army. Small strip of German territory occupied by rioters reinforced by civilians and unorganized bands of Polish soldiers according to German statements. German army propose to expel these bands immediately. I will go to Polish headquarters tomorrow to secure their assistance in stopping hostilities and immediate withdrawal of any Polish soldiers. Believe the only solution of difficulty is the immediate appointment of Upper Silesian commission which must have small force of allied soldiers preferably Americans to maintain order and protect property. Will wire you more definite recommendations as to numbers tomorrow. Suggest German government be notified from Paris that I am authorized to act for Commission until its arrival. Have written assurance from German general that no German soldier will cross Polish border. There is not question in my mind that present disturbances can be settled by any other means than establishment of commission as suggested. No destruction reported as yet but German forces are not sufficient to maintain guards. Will have meeting with mine owners Wednesday morning. […]

In a telegram to Herbert Hoover

Katowice, August 20, 1919

Germans have brought in large number of troops and now occupy practically all territory. German Commander agrees not to enter or fire upon Polish territory under any circumstances and will not shoot any prisoners without notice to me. I have been with Insurrectionists this morning. Found them without organization, all Polish civilians and soldiers but none from Haller’s army. Followed German troops this afternoon immediately after their occupation of town and found no serious damage. Some miners no working and believe more workmen will return but normal production of coal impossible under present condition as situation is stabilized only by use of troops and strong Polish feeling will certainly increase. We had arranged meeting between mine owners and employees with good prospect of arranging immediate return to work of all miners but this meeting has been prohibited by The Military and State authorities. Unless this decision is changed see no reason why we should remain and expect to leave Thursday. Most important that Upper Silesia Commission be appointed and take charge immediately otherwise coal production with be very low and future outbursts can be expected. Had meeting with committee of Poles from Warsaw at Sosnowice this morning but [in] the present situation they can be of no service. Will wire definitely about leaving tomorrow. […]

Katowice, August 21, 1919

[…] There is little doubt that it would take very little to start another war here, and no one knows where it would end. The Poles have succeeded in putting themselves entirely in the wrong and my whole argument with the Germans has to be based on high moral grounds and that sort of thing. When I saw the Poles are wrong, I do not mean the Polish Government has done anything, but these fool insurgents, when captured, are of course, ripe subjects for shooting and they are dragging in another war by the ears. Gibson wires me that the Paderewski Ministry is being hard pressed and I am sending him as reassuring a wire as possible. Communication is very difficult. I suppose it is not exactly necessary to say that I am having a gorgeous time.

source: Hoover Institution Archives, Anson Conger Goodyear papers, boxes 1–2.