Leonard M. Landsborough

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Leonard M. Landsborough (ca. 1858–1927) was an agriculturist in the Florin, California, area and a member of the California State Assembly. A member of the Populist Party and then a Democrat, he was active in a movement to protect the rights of Japanese farmers in the Sacramento Valley. He resigned from the Assembly after being indicted for malfeasance while he had been a Sacramento County employee.


He was born as Leonard Modrahan Landsborough in Australia, probably in 1858, and moved to the United States, where he married Californian Agnes Ethel Rutter, the daughter of James Rutter, a pioneer settler in the Sacramento Valley who was known for the quality of the grapes from his vineyards. There were five children, Thomas R., Amy L., Leonard B., Lloyd and Georgie B.[1][2][3]

Landsborough testified in favor of Japanese farmers in California, who were being threatened with legal penalties and, as alien Japanese, were not legally able to own property in the state.To get around this stricture, he told a U.S. Congressional investigative committee in 1920, he had been "purchasing land in his own name" and pledging to hand it over to the U.S.-born children of the immigrants when they became adults.[4] He was a member of the American Committee of Justice, which worked against Initiative 1, the Alien Land Law, on the November 2, 1920, California ballot.[5]

Landsborough died in Sacramento on March 14, 1927, at the age of 69.[6]

Public life[edit]

Landsborough was appointed deputy county clerk about 1892 by Sacramento County Clerk W.B. Hamilton, "and since that time he has been one of the most trusted employes in the service of the county." He was active in Populist politics and in 1894 received the Populist nomination for clerk of the California Supreme Court.[7]

In October 1893, Landsborough was elected adjutant of a temporary committee chosen to form a California State unit of the Industrial Legion of the United States organized by "prominent leaders of the People's Party who are also prominent in the Farmers' Alliance." It was to be "modeled much after the Grand Army [of the Republic] and partakes of a secret organization character." He was also a member of the state executive committee of the Farmers Alliance.[8][9][10]

Three years later, in August 1896, the Democrats and the Populists of Sacramento County formed a fusion ticket to contest the state and county elections. Landsborough was chosen to run for the Assembly in the 22nd District,[11] and he won the November general election by 1,272 votes to 1,074 for William Lovdal, the Republican candidate.[12][13]

Just the next month, though, the news broke that Landsborough had been skimming money from men who had been summoned for jury duty while he was a deputy county clerk. He did this by raising the figure of their jury pay and pocketing the difference in cooperation with a money lender, F.C. Hyde. Landsborough made a full confession to the county clerk, and repaid the money, $143.50,[7] but later he was indicted by a grand jury and was charged with forgery and fraudulent conduct.[14] Upon trial the next May, he was acquitted of the charges, with the jury being out "but a few minutes."[15]

Landsborough took part in the state convention of the Democratic Party in Sacramento in September 1902,[16] and in April 1910 he ran for a seat "for trustees of the high school."[17]


  1. ^ Sidney Perry, May 22, 2006, Ancestry.com
  2. ^ Elizabeth Pinkerton, "James Rutter and the Flame Tokay," Elk Grove Citizen, September 12, 1984, excerpted in James Rutter Middle School website
  3. ^ History of the New California — Its Resources and People, Volume II, the Lewis Publishing Company, 1905, Leigh H. Irvine, editor, excerpted in usgennet.org
  4. ^ Preston A. Wicker, "Children Born Here Used to Gain Lands for Older Japanese," San Francisco Chronicle, July 14, 1920, page 1 Library card required
  5. ^ "Fair Play," Plumas National Bulletin, October 28, 1920 Registration required
  6. ^ "Sacramento Pioneer Dies," Associated Press in Los Angeles Times, March 15, 1927, page 4 Library card required
  7. ^ a b "Politics Led to His Ruin," San Francisco Chronicle, December 28, 1896, page 4 Library card required
  8. ^ "Their Views Defined," San Francisco Chronicle, October 19, 1893, page 3 Library card required
  9. ^ "For the Next Battle," San Francisco Chronicle, November 20, 1892, page 15 Library card required
  10. ^ "The Second Day, Associated Press in Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1893, page 2 Library card required
  11. ^ "Fusion in Sacramento," San Francisco Chronicle, August 27, 1896, page 3 Library card required
  12. ^ "Assemblymen-Elect," Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1896, page 3 Library card required
  13. ^ "Sacramento County Republicans," Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1896 Library card required
  14. ^ "California Legislature: An Indicted Assemblyman," Los Angeles Times, January 7, 1897, page 3 Library card required
  15. ^ "Statesman Landsborough's Luck," Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1897, page 2 Library card required
  16. ^ "Another Account: Convention Is Subdued," Associated Press in Los Angeles Times, September 3, 1902, page 4 Library card required
  17. ^ "Glance Back, April 2, 1910," Elk Grove Citizen