Amasa Leland Stanford (9 March 1824 – 21 June 1893) was an American tycoon, politician and founder of Stanford University.
Stanford was born in the town of Watervliet, New York in 1824; in what is now the town of Colonie. He was one of eight children of Josiah and Elizabeth Phillips Stanford. His immigrant ancestor, Thomas Stanford, settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the 17th century. Later ancestors settled in the Mohawk Valley of New York about 1720. Stanford's father was a farmer of some means. 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 & Hadley in Albany.
Stanford was admitted to the bar in 1848 and then moved to Port Washington, Wisconsin, where he began law practice with Wesley Pierce. His father presented him with a law library said to be the finest north of Milwaukee. On September 30, 1850, he married Jane Elizabeth Lathrop in Albany. She was the daughter of Dyer Lathrop, a merchant of that city, and Jane Anne (Shields) Lathrop. The couple were the parents of one son, Leland Stanford, Jr., born in 1868 when both were middle aged.