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Amasa Leland Stanford

Gov. Amasa Leland Stanford

  • January 10, 1862 - December 10, 1863
  • Republican
  • March 9, 1824
  • June 21, 1893
  • New York
  • Married Jane Elizabeth Lathrop; one child (died from typhoid fever as youth)
  • Senator


LELAND STANFORD was born on March 9, 1824, in Watervliet, New York. He attended Clinton Liberal Institute, in Clinton, New York, and studied law at Cazenovia Seminary in Cazenovia, New York. Stanford migrated to California in 1852, joining his brothers in their mercantile business. In 1861 he co-founded and became president of the Central Pacific Railroad. He served as justice of the peace in Michigan Bluff and was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention. On September 4, 1861, Stanford was elected Governor of California, and on January 10, 1862, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, he cut the state’s debt in half, and he advocated for the conservation of forests. He approved several public grants, one of which provided financial assistance to a railroad he had a personal interest in, the Central Pacific Railroad. The Normal School was founded in San Francisco, and a constitutional change was enacted lengthening the governor’s term from two years to four. On December 10, 1863, Stanford left office, and returned to his railway businesses. He continued to serve as president of the Central Pacific Railroad until 1893, and of its sister railroad, the Southern Pacific, until 1890. Stanford bestowed $30 million to a university in memory of his only child, who died at the age of 15, of typhoid fever. The university was named Leland Stanford Junior University, and is known today as Stanford University. In 1885 Stanford was elected to the U.S. Senate, serving until his death on June 21, 1893. Governor Leland Stanford is buried in a mausoleum on the grounds of Stanford University.


Official Records: California State Archives

Personal Papers: Stanford University, Special Collections and University Library

Image source: California State Library: Governors' Gallery

Governors of California 1849-2002

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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