Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, founded Stanford University in 1885. They named the university after their only child, Leland Stanford Junior, who died at age 15. The couple moved to California from Maine in 1852 and quickly became successful entrepreneurs in San Francisco during the Gold Rush era.
Stanford made his fortune as a merchant, railroad tycoon and politician. He served as governor of California from 1861 to 1863. After returning to private life as an attorney, he was elected as U.S. Senator for California in 1861 by only one vote after a recount by the Senate’s chief clerk. He served for six years until his death on June 21, 1893 at the age of 82.
Jane Lathrop Stanford was born into a wealthy family in 1830 and married Leland Stanford in 1856 when she was 26 years old. She died at her Palo Alto home on January 28, 1903 at age 73 following a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak or write clearly.
Moreover, Jane Lathrop Stanford was known for being a generous philanthropist who donated
1 million to build the first medical school at Stanford University before her death in 1903; it opened two years later as the first medical school west of Chicago. She also donated
500,000 toward construction of the university’s Memorial Church.
Today, Stanford University is known for its outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide range of fields, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering. The university is home to seven schools and is one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the United States, with a distinguished faculty, top-ranked programs, and a commitment to innovation and social impact.