Skip to main content

Lost Opportunity

February 2024
1min read


Your “Golden Anniversary” article retelling the story of the founding of American Heritage (November/December 2004) mentions James Parton’s approaching Winthrop Rockefeller, his Loomis School classmate, to become an investor. Rockefeller turned him down and proffered a loan instead, saying it was not in the tradition of his family to invest in publishing ventures.

Shortly thereafter Rockefeller moved to Arkansas, where in time he became a two-term governor. At his death, in 1973, he had established a record of good government, generous philanthropy, and dedication to public service that continues to enrich his adopted state in ways beyond number.

It was my honor to serve for a time on Rockefeller’s staff. Meeting with him late one night in the winter of 1969 at his rural home on Petit Jean Mountain, we walked into the library. There I noticed neatly shelved copies of American Heritage dating from 1954. I commented that I too was an original subscriber and took both pride and joy in retaining the white bound books. “You know,” he said, “an old school chum asked me to become an investor when he tarted that venture, but family reasons caused me to decline. I guess if I had bought into it like he wanted, I could have been a millionaire by now.”

A touch of whimsy from one of the wealthiest men in America, but praise also for your magazine and its mission. Then, as now, well deserved.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate