California's first governor, Leland Stanford was one of the Big Four, whose influence shaped California in the 19th century. Today, his name is best known through Stanford University.
Stanford was born in Watervliet, New York, in 1824. Before moving to California, he practiced law at Port Washington, Wisconsin. In 1852, he moved to California and opened a general store. After entering politics, he became governor of California in 1862 and helped keep California loyal to the Union during the Civil War. He was one of those instrumental in creating the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. From 1885 until his death in 1893, Stanford was a Republican U.S. Senator.