Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Moses Cleaveland

Moses Cleaveland, the name sake and founder of the City of Cleveland, was born on January 29, 1754, in Canturbury, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale in 1777 after studying law, and was commissioned shortly thereafter to fight in the Revolutionary War in the Continental Army. He resigned in 1781 and began to practice law.

After the Revolution, people began a westward migration, and disputes ensued over the ownership of the land. According to the “Ohio History Central” website, “The federal government encouraged the states to give up their claims within the Northwest Territory. Connecticut was one of the states with land claims in Ohio. While giving up its rights to most of the land, the state maintained its ownership of the northeastern corner of the territory. This area became known as the Connecticut Western Reserve. The Connecticut Land Company was a group of private speculators who purchased approximately three million acres of the Western Reserve. In 1796, the company sent one of its major investors, General Moses Cleaveland, to Ohio. He led the survey of company lands within the Western Reserve. “

The “Encyclopedia of Cleveland History” elaborates: “When the party arrived at Buffalo Creek, N.Y., Cleaveland met in treaty with Red Jacket, Joseph Brant, Farmer's Brother, and other Iroquois chiefs, and with gifts and persuasion convinced them their land had already been ceded through Gen. Anthony Wayne's Treaty of Greenville. Although they had not signed the treaty, the Indians relinquished their claim to the land to the Cuyahoga River. At the mouth of Conneaut Creek, the party on 27 June 1796 negotiated with the Massasagoes tribe, who challenged their claim to their country. Cleaveland described his agreement with the Six Nations, promised not to disturb their people, and gave them trinkets, wampum, and whiskey in exchange for safety to explore to the Cuyahoga River. Cleaveland arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga on 22 July 1796, and believing that the location, where river, lake, low banks, dense forests, and high bluffs provided both protection and shipping access, was the ideal location for the "capital city" of the Connecticut Western Reserve, paced out a 10-acre New England-like Public Square. His surveyors plotted a town, naming it Cleaveland. In Oct. 1796, Cleaveland and most of his party returned to Connecticut, where he continued his law practice until his death, never returning to the Western Reserve. A memorial near his grave in Canterbury, Conn., erected 16 Nov. 1906 by the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, reads that Cleaveland was "a lawyer, a soldier, a legislator and a leader of men."

According to Wikipedia, the city of Cleveland got its name from Moses Cleaveland when a newspaper printer dropped the “a” to fit the name in the masthead. Ohio History Central indicates the name change was due to a spelling error on a map.

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Statue on Public Square

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