Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cincinnati “Presidential Material”

There was a quiz in yesterday’s Enquirer marking President’s Day. The questions were all about Presidents which had some connection to Cincinnati. I thought it was a fun quiz however I had a slight issue with two questions.

Question 10 asked "Which of these Cincinnati-area localities was actually visited by the president it was named for?" Choices were Mount Adams, Monroe Township, Lincoln Heights, and Pierce Township. They said the answer was Mt. Adams which is what I thought the Enquirer would say. However, I might disagree with them. Former President John Quincy Adams came to Cincinnati to speak at the cornerstone laying ceremony for the Cincinnati Observatory which was held on November 9, 1843. The Observatory was being constructed on Mt. Ida just east of downtown. President John Quincy Adams did come from Boston to speak however the story as I understand it was that the weather was very poor that November day and instead of actually going to Mt. Ida, the ceremony was held in Wesley Chapel on 5th Street downtown. It was the largest building in Cincinnati at the time and could hold a large group. So maybe the 77 year old former President did go up on Mt. Ida that day but it is not what I’ve heard. City Council did mark the occasion though and renamed Mt. Ida to Mt. Adams in the President’s honor.

The Bonus Question asked "What area municipality traces its name not to a president but to a dictator?" Their answer was "The City of Cincinnati, after the Society of Cincinnati, an officer’s club whose name honored ancient Roman dictator Cincinnatus." Ok, I guess he was a technically a dictator but the reason why Revolutionary War officers named their Society after him was that he was considered a gentleman farmer who served as leader of Rome during war time and after the war was over, he relinquished control and went back to his farm. The Society related to this ethic of selfless service to the Republic and saw themselves in much the same way. George Washington was the first President General of the Society of Cincinnati. Alexander Hamilton, whom the county was named after, was the second. Members included Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, who renamed Losantiville to Cincinnati and David Ziegler, Cincinnati’s first mayor.

Historic photos from Library's Cincinnati Memory Project.

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