George E. Leach

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George Emerson Leach
George E. Leach.jpg
Leach as Militia Bureau Chief
Born(1876-07-14)July 14, 1876
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
DiedJuly 17, 1955(1955-07-17) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California
Allegiance United States
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1905–1941
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held151st Field Artillery Regiment
56th Field Artillery Brigade
National Guard Bureau
34th Infantry Division
Battles/warsPancho Villa Expedition
World War I
World War II
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Purple Heart
Other workMayor of Minneapolis
Insurance executive
Owner, vending business
28th and 33rd Mayor of Minneapolis
In office
July 5, 1937 – July 6, 1941
Preceded byThomas E. Latimer
Succeeded byMarvin L. Kline
In office
July 4, 1921 – July 7, 1929
Preceded byJ. E. Meyers
Succeeded byWilliam F. Kunze
Personal details
Political partyRepublican

George Emerson Leach (July 14, 1876 – July 17, 1955) was an American politician who served as a major general in the United States Army and two-time Republican Mayor of Minneapolis.

Early life[edit]

George Emerson Leach was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on July 14, 1876,[1] and was raised in Minneapolis. He attended Central High School in Minneapolis.[2] After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1897,[3] he began a career in insurance.[4]



In April 1905, he was commissioned as a Second lieutenant of Field Artillery in the Minnesota National Guard.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

General John J. Pershing decorates Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur (third from left) with the Distinguished Service Cross in late 1918. Major General Charles T. Menoher (furthest left) reads out the citation while Colonel George E. Leach (fourth from left) and Lieutenant Colonel William J. Donovan await their decorations.

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.[8] 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.[9]

In 1923, Leach was promoted to brigadier general as commander of Minnesota's 59th Field Artillery Brigade.[10] In 1931, he was appointed Chief of the National Guard Bureau and was promoted to Major General.[11] 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.[12] In 1937, he was elected President of the National Guard Association of the United States.[13]

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.[14]

After the war, Leach operated a vending machine company, George E. Leach, Inc., and was Chairman of the National Automatic Merchandising Association.[15]


In June 1921, Leach was elected Mayor of Minneapolis.[16] He stood for election as a conservative, and was re-elected in 1923.[17] During his second term, Leach's opponents accused him of being a communist because he opposed private ownership of a hydroelectric dam on the Mississippi River.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22] Leach won a landslide re-election against the KKK's stand-in for Miner, Senator William A. Campbell.[23]

In 1926, Leach was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor. He was re-elected mayor in 1927,[24] but was defeated for re-election in 1929.[25] In 1937, he was again elected mayor.[26] He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Minnesota in 1938.[27] He was re-elected mayor in 1939,[28] and served until 1941.

Amateur sports affiliation[edit]

Leach was an avid skier. In 1924 he managed the U.S. Olympic Ski Team,[29] and he was the National Ski Association's representative to the 1924 convention which led to the creation of the International Ski Federation.[30]


Leach died in Los Angeles, California on July 17, 1955.[31] He was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Section D.S., Site 65-N.[32]

Awards and legacy[edit]

Leach's awards included the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal and Purple Heart in addition to other service and achievement awards.[33] The George E. Leach Range and Leach Avenue at Camp Ripley, a Minnesota National Guard training facility, are named for him.[34]

Leach was posthumously named to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.[35]

Ribbon bar[edit]

Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gold star
1st Row Distinguished Service Cross Army Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row Purple Heart Mexican Border Service Medal World War I Victory Medal w/ three battle clasps Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
3rd Row American Defense Service Medal American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Minnesota Medal for Merit
4th Row Officer of the Legion of Honour French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with Palm and Star Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy Knight 1st Class of the Norwegian Order of St. Olav[36][37]


  1. ^ United States Coast Artillery Association, Coast Artillery Journal, Volume 75, 1932, page 54
  2. ^ Brandt, S. (2013-07-03). "Central alums mark alma mater's centennial". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St. Paul. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  3. ^ The University of Minnesota, The Gopher: Annual Publication of the Student Body of the University of Minnesota, Volume 33, 1920, page 227
  4. ^ Marion Daniel Shutter, History of Minneapolis: Gateway to the Northwest, Volume 2, 1932, page 226
  5. ^ Minnesota Adjutant General, Annual Report, 1905, page 166
  6. ^ Minnesota War Records Commission, Commission Publications, Volume 2, 1924, page 376
  7. ^ Utica Daily Press, Leach to Head National Guard, November 14, 1931
  8. ^ George E. Leach, War Diary, 1923, Title page
  9. ^ Northwest Insurance magazine, Candidate for Governor, Volume 36, 1938, pages 22-23
  10. ^ Minnesota Adjutant General, Annual report, 1923, page 4
  11. ^ New York Times, Gen. G.E. Leach Heads Army Militia Bureau, November 14, 1931
  12. ^ National Guard Bureau, Annual report, 1938, page 8
  13. ^ New York Times, Guard Elects Mayor Leach, October 31, 1937
  14. ^ John H. Hougen, The story of the famous 34th Infantry Division, 1949
  15. ^ Billboard magazine, 11 Operators Seek Part in Canteen Case, October 4, 1947
  16. ^ New York Times, Townley Radical Beaten: Minneapolis Election for Mayor Returns Conservative Candidate, June 14, 1921
  17. ^ New York Times, Leach Re-elected Minneapolis Mayor, June 13, 1923
  18. ^ David M. Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, 1981, page 149
  19. ^ Chalmers, David Mark (1987). Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8223-0730-3. leach minneapolis ku klux klan knights of columbus.
  20. ^ Chalmers, Hooded Americanism, pp. 150-151
  21. ^ John Beecher, Tomorrow Is a Day: A Story of the People in Politics, 1980, page 189
  22. ^ Kenneth T. Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930, pages 161-162
  23. ^ Kenneth T. Jackson, The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930, 1992, pages 161-162
  24. ^ New York Times, Minneapolis Re-elects Leach Mayor, June 15, 1927
  25. ^ Herbert Lefkovitz, New York Times, Leach's Landslide Held Spectacular, May 16, 1937
  26. ^ Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Mayor, June 16, 1937
  27. ^ Christian Science Monitor, Benson Leads in Minnesota, June 21, 1938
  28. ^ New York Times, Minneapolis Re-elects Leach, June 14, 1939
  29. ^ Christian Science Monitor, Ski Team Will Take Chicago Olympic Bid, January 16, 1924
  30. ^ U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum, Honored member page, George Emerson Leach, accessed April 16, 2013
  31. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Deaths Elsewhere: George Emerson Leach, July 19, 1955
  32. ^ U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Nationwide Gravesite Locator Archived 2019-06-01 at the Wayback Machine, entry for George E. Leach, accessed April 16, 2013
  33. ^ National Guard Bureau, Biographical sketch, George E. Leach[permanent dead link], accessed April 16, 2013
  34. ^ Minnesota National Guard, Memorializations at Camp Ripley, 2010, pages 4, 6
  35. ^ New York Times, Five Named Posthumously To U.S. Ski Hall of Fame, February 13, 1969
  36. ^ Associated Press, Reading Eagle, Leach Placed at Head of National Guard, November 13, 1931
  37. ^ Sons of the American Revolution, The Sons of the American Revolution Magazine, Volumes 50-53, 1955, page 12

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Minneapolis
1921 – 1929
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Minneapolis
1937 – 1941
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Chief of the National Guard Bureau
1931 – 1935
Succeeded by
Col. Herold J. Weiler (acting)