Leonard Gansevoort was born in July 1751. He was the son of Albany mainstays Harman and Magdalena Douw Gansevoort, and the brother to Rev. War Major General Peter Gansevoort. His father was the third of his family's generation in America, who were prominent brewers and merchants in Albany.
Leonard was introduced to the elements of business and trade growing up in his father's house across from the Albany Market.
The Albany Market, erected in the middle of Market Street about 1765, served as a merchant's exchange and the official station for weighing and valuing agricultural produce. It was the center of Albany business life where bartering occurred with established merchants and entrepreneurs. During colonial days, most Albany merchants strove to live within sight of the Market House.
Leonard married Hester Cuyler in 1770. Over the next two decades, their children were baptized in the Albany Dutch church where he was a church officer and regular baptism sponsor.
Leonard studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1771 and commenced to practice in Albany, New York.
Public service began with election to the city council while still living in his father's third ward home, by the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, he had moved his family to a more spacious home on lower State Street where they would live for the next two decades.
With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, he became a member of the Albany Committee of Correspondence, serving as treasurer and was one of the twelve deputies elected by the Albany Committee in 1775.
The Albany Committee of Correspondence, Safety, and Protection was formed over the winter of 1774-1775 to mobilize local opposition to the so-called Intolerable Acts. Within a year, it would take over for an increasingly inadequate Albany Corporation which had governed the city since 1686. Although city-based, over the next two and a half years, the Albany Committee extended its authority and influence throughout Albany County and beyond.
A committed revolutionary, he was elected to the Provincial Congress, serving as president in 1777. In addition, he served as Colonel of Light Cavalry, in the Continental Army.
Appointed Albany County clerk in 1778, then became a member of the New York State Assembly, (1778-79, 88). He was elected a member of the Continental Congress, in 1788, served in the New York State Senate, (1791-93) and judge of Albany County Court of Common Pleas, (1794-97). He also was judge of the probate court from 1799 until his death.
As he grew in wealth and stature, Gansevoort invested in real estate within and beyond Albany. During that time, his State Street home was an Albany landmark. In 1789, he purchased the farm called Whitehall from the son of General Philip Schuyler. Following the Nov. 17, 1793 fire which started in his stable, eventually destroying an entire city block at the northwest corner of what is now State and Broadway, he moved out to Whitehall and began to add more rooms to accommodate his growing family. The Whitehall property technically was just inside the new town called Bethlehem. The census for 1800 shows his Bethlehem property was attended by thirteen slaves.
Leonard Gansevoort died unexpectedly on August 26 1810. He had just passed his fifty-ninth birthday.