Was Leland Stanford a ‘Magnanimous’ Philanthropist or a ‘Thief, Liar, and Bigot?’
The Railroad Baron and Governor of California Was Starkly Contradictory and Infamously Disruptive
Born in his father’s East Coast backwoods bar, dying in a magnificent West Coast mansion built from his self-made fortune. Condemned as the complete robber-baron, consecrated as a singular titan of American enterprise. Exalted as the magnanimous founder of a world-class university, damned as a thief, liar, and bigot.
With all of the stark contradictions in his character, Leland Stanford—a man best known as a railroad magnate, California governor, and putative philanthropist—embodies American typecasts that have bedeviled us for centuries. …