The Day Leland Stanford Met David Jordan

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Howard McMains


On the evening of Saturday, March 21, 1891, Leland and Jane Stanford arrived at the Bloomington, Indiana, railway depot in the standard accommodation car of the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago’s Number 9. The couple were building a university on their Palo Alto ranch to honor their late son, Leland Jr., and Senator Stanford was searching for a president for his new university. David Starr Jordan, the president of Indiana University, had been recommended to Stanford to fill the position. The two men met briefly and privately the next morning, Jordan accepted the post, and the Stanfords quietly left town on Monday. Howard F. McMains details the reasons behind Stanford’s discreet visit and examines how historians have mischaracterized the Stanfords’ travels to Bloomington and thus the meeting between Stanford and Jordan.


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McMains, H. (2019). The Day Leland Stanford Met David Jordan. Indiana Magazine of History, 115(3), 197–218. Retrieved from