Leonard Jones (American politician)
Leonard "Live-Forever" Jones (July 3, 1797–August 30, 1868) was an eccentric who claimed to be immortal. According to Jones, mortality was a side effect of immorality, and anyone could achieve immortality through a regimen of prayer and fasting. Jones was an unsuccessful politician, running repeatedly for President of the United States hailing his immortality as his platform. He was the brother of Laban Jones, a renowned preacher of the time.
Jones was born in Virginia in 1797 and came to Union County, Kentucky in 1804. As a young man, he amassed a considerable fortune as a land speculator and, after his fiancée broke off their engagement, he moved to Indiana where he developed an interest in religion. He joined the United Brethren and later the Methodists, before donating 5,000 valuable acres of land east of Illinois to the Shakers. He was baptized as a Mormon by a preacher he encountered, but rejected the religion after not receiving the promised gift of tongues.
Jones later encountered a "strange genius" by the name of McDaniel who preached that "man by faith can live forever". Jones and McDaniel planned a "capital city of the world" on the site where Columbus, Kentucky later stood, a city without graveyards where members of the "live-forever" faith would reside. The pair headed east to recruit converts, but McDaniel died after being taken ill in Ohio. Jones was "very much embarrassed" at having to preach at the funeral of his "live-forever" partner. With the death of McDaniel, the plans for their city were abandoned and Jones moved into politics, continuing to believe that he himself was immortal.
Jones formed the "High Moral" political party in an attempt to spread his ideas. He ran repeatedly for Congress in several districts, including Paducah, Kentucky, and went on to run for President and for Governor of Kentucky; these campaigns never succeeded in getting even a fraction of the vote.
Despite this, he was not overly mocked, and was considered a harmless curiosity. He was allowed to speak to large crowds, who cheered him on as he made his claims, and politicians humored his competition.
Jones caught pneumonia in 1868 and refused medical aid due to his belief that his sickness was moral at its base. He died on August 30, 1868.
- Zoltan Istvan, whose 2016 presidential campaign promises immortality via transhumanism.