Leland Stanford was born 9 March 1824 in Watervliet, Albany County, New York, United States to Josiah Stanford (1795-1862) and Elizabeth Phillips (1790-1873) and died 20 June 1893 Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, California, United States of unspecified causes. He married Jane Elizabeth Lathrop (1828-1905) 30 September 1850 in Watervliet, Albany County, New York.

Amasa Leland Stanford was an American tycoon, industrialist, politician, and the father (with his wife, Jane Elizabeth Lathrop (1828-1905)) of Stanford University. Migrating to California from New York at the time of the Gold Rush, he became a successful merchant and wholesaler, and continued to build his business empire. He spent one two-year term as governor of California after his election in 1861, and later eight years as a senator from the state. As president of Southern Pacific Railroad and, beginning in 1861, Central Pacific, he had tremendous power in the region and a lasting impact on California. He is widely considered a robber baron.

Early Years

Stanford was born in 1824 in what was then Watervliet, New York (now the Town of Colonie). He was one of eight children of Josiah and Elizabeth Phillips Stanford.

Stanford's father was a farmer of some means. Stanford was raised on family farms in the Lisha Kill and Roessleville (after 1836) areas of Watervliet. The family home in Roessleville was called Elm Grove. The Elm Grove home was razed in the 1940s. Stanford attended the common school until 1836 and was tutored at home until 1839. He attended Clinton Liberal Institute, in Clinton, New York, and studied law at Cazenovia Seminary in Cazenovia, New York, in 1841–45. In 1845, he entered the law office of Wheaton, Doolittle and Hadley in Albany.[7]

California Governor and Senator

He was the eighth Governor of California, serving from January 1862 to December 1863, and the first Republican governor. Due to the Great Flood of 1862, the governor was said to have needed to row in a boat to his own inauguration. A large, slow-speaking man who always read from a prepared text, he impressed his listeners as being more sincere than a glib, extemporaneous speaker.

Later, he served in the United States Senate from 1885 until his death in 1893. He served for four years as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, and also served on the Naval Committee.

Stanford University

With his wife Jane, Stanford founded Leland Stanford Junior University as a memorial for their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who died as a teenager of typhoid fever in Florence, Italy, in 1884 while on a trip to Europe. The University was established by March 9, 1885, Endowment Act of the California assembly and senate, and the Grant of Endowment from Leland and Jane Stanford signed at the first meeting of the board of trustees on November 14, 1885.

Although the university is generally referred to as "Stanford University" or "Stanford", its official name is still "Leland Stanford Junior University", as seen on the university seal.

Marriage and Family


Offspring of Leland Stanford and Jane Elizabeth Lathrop (1828-1905)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Leland DeWitt Stanford (1868-1884) 14 May 1868 Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, United States 13 March 1884 Firenze, Tuscany, Italy


Among his siblings were New York State Senator Charles Stanford (1819–1885) and Australian businessman and spiritualist Thomas Welton Stanford (1832–1918). His immigrant ancestor, Thomas Stanford, settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the 17th century. Later ancestors settled in the eastern Mohawk Valley of central New York about 1720.


The Stanfords retained ownership of their mansion in Sacramento, where their only son was born. Now the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park, the house museum is also used for California state social occasions. The Stanfords' home in San Francisco's Nob Hill district was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; the site is occupied now by the Stanford Court Hotel. The Stanford residence at the Palo Alto Stock Farm became a convalescent home for children in 1919 (forerunner of the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital) and was torn down in 1965.

Stanford Mausoleum

Stanford family mausoleum at Palo Alto, California.

Leland Stanford Jr. is interred beside his parents at the Stanford family mausoleum on the Stanford campus. After the death of his father on June 21, 1893, his mother guided the development of the university until her death on February 28, 1905. Nomenclature


  • Stanford Founders
  • wikipedia:en:Leland Stanford - Wikipedia
  • Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Stanford, Leland". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Leland Stanford Jr. University". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 406.
  • Mirielees, Edith R., Stanford:The Story of a University, G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1959, page 20
  • The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. II, p. 129. New York: James T. White & Company, 1899. Reprint of 1891 edition.
  • Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XVII, p. 504. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935.
  • Cleveland Amory, Who Killed Society?, pp. 432-433. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960.
  • Leland Stanford Jr at Find A Grave #8158237


Footnotes (including sources)