Moses Cleaveland was the founder of Cleveland, Ohio.
Following the American Revolution, U.S. settlers began to migrate westward in large numbers. There were lengthy disputes about the ownership of this land. 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. Cleaveland had served under General George Washington for several years during the American Revolution and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Connecticut militia. In 1781, Cleaveland had opened a law practice in Canterbury, Connecticut. He also had served as a member of the Connecticut state convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1788.
Cleaveland's surveying party of fifty-two people included two women. The surveyors laid out a town along the eastern bank of the Cuyahoga River and named it Cleaveland. Because of a spelling error on the original map, the town of Cleaveland was spelled as Cleveland. The surveying party experienced many difficulties and hardships. It did not complete as much work as had originally been expected and returned to Connecticut in the fall. Another surveying team went back to the Western Reserve the next spring but Moses Cleaveland was not a part of it.
Cleaveland never returned to Ohio. He spent the rest of his life with his legal practice and business interests in Connecticut. He died in 1806.
- Carter, Clarence Edwin, ed. The Territorial Papers of the United States. Vol. I-III. New York, NY: AMS Press, 1973.
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
- Hurt, R. Douglas. The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996.
- Milligan, Fred J. Ohio's Founding Fathers. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2003.
- Onuf, Peter S. Statehood and Union: A History of the Northwest Ordinance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.