Leon Jastremski (July 17, 1843 - November 29, 1907) was a Confederate soldier, journalist, and the 3-term mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During his mayoralty, he fought and was instrumental in keeping Baton Rouge the state capital. He wrote political articles as a newspaper editor, including an editorial noted for its advocacy of racial separatism between blacks and whites. In 1876, he joined the Ku Klux Klan and he was a founding member of the United Confederate Veterans, created in 1889.
Despite his Polish name and ethnic background, he was born in France and wrote to his own family in French. In his biography Pills, Pens, & Politics, Pinkowski found numerous Polish immigrants in Baton Rouge existed during his time, but there is no convincing proof that he was friends with them or took a paternalistic attitude towards them as mayor. Leon Jastremski's documents and letters are held at Louisiana State University.
Leon Jastremski was born to an aristocratic family in Soulon, France. His father had been a Polish emigre to France, where he had studied medicine and married before moving with his family to Louisiana. Jastremski was born in the castle of Count de Pontaut. In 1852 or 1853, Leon's parents and siblings left for the United States, while he was under the care of his mother's relatives until six. He came to the United States in 1852 or 1853, joining his family. Both his parents died in 1856, leaving him an orphan. After their deaths, he worked as a printer's apprentice. During the Civil War, he served as a Private in the 10th Louisiana Infantry Regiment and for a time was with Col. Walerian Sulakowski's brigade in Virginia. He fought for the Union side at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862 and was captured and imprisoned at Fort Delaware. After he was released, he fought at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Chantilly, Harper's Ferry, and Antietam. He rose to the ranks of Captain and was captured for a third time at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864. He was wounded twice during his service in the Confederate Army, once in the throat and another in the hand. At one time during the war, his brigade was in battle against a Union brigade led by another Polish exile, Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski.
In 1876, he was elected mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He joined the Ku Klux Klan that year. As mayor he was instrumental in restoring Baton Rouge as the state capital, and was re-elected twice. He was a founder of the United Confederate Veterans Association, elected chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee, and led Grover Cleveland's presidential campaign in Louisiana. He was U.S. consul to Peru from 1893 to 1897 and was appointed state commissioner of agriculture and later served as private secretary to the governor. Historian Donald Everett noted that Jastremski, despite his place in important leadership roles, never "received more than superficial attention". He ran for governor in 1903 and 1907, both times without success. Historian James S. Pula suggests that racist ideology and white southern populism were likely used in his campaign platforms.