Amasa Leland Stanford (March 9, 1824 – June 21, 1893) was an American tycoon, industrialist, politician and founder 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 served one two-year term as governor of California after his election in 1861, and later eight years as 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.
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. 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.
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 schools 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...
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