George E. Leach
|George Emerson Leach|
Leach as Militia Bureau Chief
July 14, 1876|
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
|Died||July 17, 1955
Los Angeles, California
|Buried||Fort Snelling National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1905–1941|
|Commands held||151st Field Artillery Regiment
56th Field Artillery Brigade
National Guard Bureau
34th Infantry Division
|Battles/wars||Pancho Villa Expedition
World War I
World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
|Other work||Mayor of Minneapolis
Owner, vending business
George Emerson Leach was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on July 14, 1876, and was raised in Minneapolis. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1897, he began a career in insurance.
In April 1905, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the Minnesota National Guard. Leach advanced through the ranks of the military in command and staff assignments. He graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College in 1916. In 1916-7, he saw active duty on the United States–Mexico border during the Pancho Villa Expedition; first as a Major, and later as Colonel and Commander of the 151st Artillery Regiment.
During World War I, Leach commanded the 151st Field Artillery Regiment, a unit of the 42nd Infantry Division. He took part in battles at Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne. Leach remained in command of the 151st Field Artillery until November 1921, after which he returned to the insurance business as manager of the St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company.
In 1923, Leach was promoted to Brigadier General as commander of Minnesota's 59th Field Artillery Brigade. In 1931, he was appointed Chief of the National Guard Bureau and was promoted to Major General. He served in this position until 1935, after which he returned to command of the 59th Field Artillery Brigade, reverting to his permanent rank of Brigadier General. In 1937, he was elected President of the National Guard Association of the United States.
From 1940 until his retirement in 1941, Leach was commander of the 34th Infantry Division, again receiving promotion to Major General. Under his command the division was activated and began its initial preparations and training for entry into World War II.
In June 1921, Leach was elected Mayor of Minneapolis. He stood for election as a conservative, and was re-elected in 1923. During his second term, Leach's opponents accused him of being a communist because he opposed private ownership of a hydroelctric dam on the Mississippi River.
At the same time, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was growing in Minnesota within the ranks of several fraternal orders, primarily the Masons and Shriners. Leach was a member of several such organizations, and the Klan initially regarded him as a de facto ally but later considered him an adversary because he had appointed a Catholic as his secretary and had dined with the Knights of Columbus. The Klan also disliked Leach because he prevented police officers from joining the Klan and because he launched an investigation into Klan activity at the University of Minnesota. The KKK fielded its Exalted Cyclops, Roy Miner, as a mayoral candidate against Leach in 1923. Miner campaigned on elimination of illegal gambling and vice, which he said Leach abetted. The KKK found a woman in a local jail who said she had had an affair with Leach, and publicized this in an effort to enmesh Leach in a scandal. A grand jury decided the story of the affair was criminally libelous. The case went to trial; Floyd B. Olson handled the prosecution against five KKK leaders. The witness said she had lied about Leach, who denied both the affair and the charges of protecting vice and gambling. The all-Protestant jury found the defendants guilty and sentenced them to prison. Leach won a landslide re-election against the KKK's stand-in for Miner, Senator William A. Campbell.
In 1926, Leach was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor. He was re-elected Mayor in 1927, but was defeated for re-election in 1929. In 1937, he was again elected Mayor. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Minnesota in 1938. He was re-elected Mayor in 1939, and served until 1941.
Amateur sports affiliation
Leach was an avid skier. In 1924 he managed the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and he was the National Ski Association's representative to the 1924 convention which led to the creation of the International Ski Federation.
Awards and legacy
Leach's awards included the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal and Purple Heart in addition to other service and achievement awards. The George E. Leach Range and Leach Avenue at Camp Ripley, a Minnesota National Guard training facility, are named for him.
- United States Coast Artillery Association, Coast Artillery Journal, Volume 75, 1932, page 54
- The University of Minnesota, The Gopher: Annual Publication of the Student Body of the University of Minnesota, Volume 33, 1920, page 227
- Marion Daniel Shutter, History of Minneapolis: Gateway to the Northwest, Volume 2, 1932, page 226
- Minnesota Adjutant General, Annual Report, 1905, page 166
- Minnesota War Records Commission, Commission Publications, Volume 2, 1924, page 376
- Utica Daily Press, Leach to Head National Guard, November 14, 1931
- George E. Leach, War Diary, 1923, Title page
- Northwest Insurance magazine, Candidate for Governor, Volume 36, 1938, pages 22-23
- Minnesota Adjutant General, Annual report, 1923, page 4
- New York Times, Gen. G.E. Leach Heads Army Militia Bureau, November 14, 1931
- National Guard Bureau, Annual report, 1938, page 8
- New York Times, Guard Elects Mayor Leach, October 31, 1937
- John H. Hougen, The story of the famous 34th Infantry Division, 1949
- Billboard magazine, 11 Operators Seek Part in Canteen Case, October 4, 1947
- New York Times, Townley Radical Beaten: Minneapolis Election for Mayor Returns Conservative Candidate, June 14, 1921
- New York Times, Leach Re-elected Minneapolis Mayor, June 13, 1923
- David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, 1981, page 149
- Chalmers, David Mark (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. p. 149.
- Chalmers, Hooded Americanism, pp. 150-151
- John Beecher, Tomorrow Is a Day: A Story of the People in Politics, 1980, page 189
- Kenneth T. Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930, pages 161-162
- Kenneth T. Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930, 1992, pages 161-162
- New York Times, Minneapolis Re-elects Leach Mayor, June 15, 1927
- Herbert Lefkovitz, New York Times, Leach's Landslide Held Spectacular, May 16, 1937
- Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Mayor, June 16, 1937
- Christian Science Monitor, Benson Leads in Minnesota, June 21, 1938
- New York Times, Minneapolis Re-elects Leach, June 14, 1939
- Christian Science Monitor, Ski Team Will Take Chicago Olympic Bid, January 16, 1924
- U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum, Honored member page, George Emerson Leach, accessed April 16, 2013
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Deaths Elsewhere: George Emerson Leach, July 19, 1955
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Nationwide Gravesite Locator, entry for George E. Leach, accessed April 16, 2013
- National Guard Bureau, Biographical sketch, George E. Leach, accessed April 16, 2013
- Minnesota National Guard, Memorializations at Camp Ripley, 2010, pages 4, 6
- New York Times, Five Named Posthumously To U.S. Ski Hall of Fame, February 13, 1969
- Associated Press, Reading Eagle, Leach Placed at Head of National Guard, November 13, 1931
- Sons of the American Revolution, The Sons of the American Revolution Magazine, Volumes 50-53, 1955, page 12
J. E. Meyers
|Mayor of Minneapolis
1921 – 1929
William F. Kunze
Thomas E. Latimer
|Mayor of Minneapolis
1937 – 1941
Marvin L. Kline
MG William G. Everson
|Chief of the National Guard Bureau
1931 – 1935
Col. Herold J. Weiler (acting)