American railroad builder, politician, and philanthropist, born in Watervliet, N.Y. After practicing law in Wisconsin, he went (1852) to California, where he became a successful merchant. He served as governor (1861–63) of California and was one of the four founders of the Central Pacific RR. He was its president until his death, and he personally served as superintendent during part of its construction. He was also president (1885–90) of the Southern Pacific RR. From 1885 to his death he was a U.S. Senator. He founded and endowed Stanford University as a memorial to his son, Leland Stanford, Jr. His wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, 1825–1905, b. Albany, N.Y., shared in founding the university and continued to aid it after her husband's death.
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