Moses Cleaveland (January 29, 1754 – November 16, 1806) was a lawyer, politician, soldier, and surveyor fromConnecticut who founded the U.S. city of Cleveland, Ohio, while surveying the Western Reserve in 1796.
Cleaveland was born in Canterbury, Windham County, Connecticut. He studied law at Yale University, graduating in 1777. He was commissioned as an ensign in the 2nd Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Army. In 1779 he was promoted to captain in the newly formed Corps of Engineers. He resigned from the army on June 7, 1781 and started a legal practice in Canterbury. As a Freemason he was initiated in a military lodge and became W. Master of Moriah Lodge, Connecticut.
He was known as a very energetic person with high ability. In 1788, he was a member of the Connecticut convention that ratified the United States Constitution. He was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly several times and in 1796 was commissioned brigadier general of militia.
He was a shareholder in the Connecticut Land Company, which had purchased land from the state of Connecticut the land in northeastern Ohio for $1,200,000 (Oho was then reserved to Connecticut by Congress, known at its first settlement as New Connecticut, and in later times as the Western Reserve.)
He was approached by the directors of the company in May 1796 and asked to lead the survey of the tract and the location of purchases. He was also responsible for the negotiations with the Native Americans living on the land. In June 1796, he set out from Schenectady, New York.
His party included fifty people including six surveyors, a physician, a chaplain, a boatman, thirty-seven employees, a few emigrants and two women who accompanied their husbands.
The expedition landed along the shore and on July 22, 1796, landed at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River where the city of Cleveland stands today.
There were on;y four settlers the first year, and by 1820 the population had grown to 150 inhabitants. Moses Cleaveland went home to Connecticut after the 1796 expedition and never returned to Ohio or the city that bears his name. He died in Canterbury, Connecticut, where he is also buried. Today, a statue of him stands on Public Square in Cleveland.