Why is the American city of Cincinnati named after a hero of ancient Rome?

Founded in the 1780s, Cincinnati was originally called Losantiville but Arthur St Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory (the land that later became the state of Ohio), disliked the name.

This Q&A was first published in BBC History Magazine in 2011


Casting around for an alternative, St Clair thought of the Society of Cincinnati, an organisation of veterans from the American War of Independence of which he was a member.


The society had taken its name from Cincinnatus, a hero of the Roman republic who had turned his back on the peaceful life of a farmer in order to serve the state, in a way that reminded the veterans of the career of their own first president, George Washington. So the new town north of the Ohio river became Cincinnati.


Answered by Nick Rennison.