Leon Abbett was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 8, 1836. His education was attained at Central High School, where he graduated in 1853. He went on to study law, and then established his legal career in New Jersey, serving in 1863 as the corporation counsel for Hoboken. Abbett first entered politics as a member of the New Jersey House of Representatives, a position he held from 1864 to 1866 and 1869 to 1870. He also served as a delegate to the 1872 and 1876 Democratic National Conventions; was a member of the New Jersey State Senate from 1875 to 1877; and served as senate president in 1877. Abbett next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 6, 1883, after which Robert S. Green succeeded him. He won reelection to a second term on November 5, 1889. During his tenure, the “Australian ballot” system was initiated; a civil rights act was sanctioned; a state board of agriculture was established; and legislative redistricting was approved. After completing his final term, Abbett secured an appointment to serve on the bench of the New Jersey Supreme Court, a position he held from 1893 until 1894. Governor Leon Abbett passed away on December 4, 1894, and was buried in the Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.