The CLEVELAND LEADER, one of the city's major newspapers, grew out of the merger of the True Democrat into Joseph Medill's DAILY FOREST CITY to form the Forest City Democrat in 1853. EDWIN COWLES, who joined the new venture as Medill's partner, changed the name to the Cleveland Leader on 16 Mar. 1854 and shortly thereafter bought out his partners to become the paper's principal owner and, after 1859, editor. Cowles made the Leader an uncompromising organ for the newly formed Republican party, and with the party's victory in 1860, the Leader emerged as the local organ for the dominant radical wing. Emerging from the Civil War as Cleveland's leading daily, the Leader was organized as a joint stock company on 3 July 1865. Its evening edition, begun in 1861 as the Evening Leader, was renamed the Evening News in 1868. By 1875 its circulation of 13,000 was double that of the Herald and 5 times that of the PLAIN DEALER. Cowles kept the paper technologically up to date, importing Cleveland's first perfecting press in 1877 and pioneering the use of electrotype plates in Ohio. Together with the Plain Dealer, in 1885 the Leader bought out its old rival, the Herald, thus securing the Evening Herald's AP franchise for its own afternoon edition, which then became the News & Herald. Editorially, the Leader was an extension of its editor's strong personality.

After Cowles's death in 1890, the Leader quickly lost its edge in the morning field to the aggressive Plain Dealer. In 1905 it was purchased by CHAS. A. OTIS, owner of the CLEVELAND NEWS. Otis sold a half-interest in both the News and Leader to Medill McCormick, the son-in-law of MARCUS A. HANNA. Assuming personal control of the Leader, McCormick moved it from its long-time location on Lower Superior near W. 6th St. to the corner of E. 6th and Superior Ave. In 1909 he leased the Leader to a triumvirate headed by CHAS. E. KENNEDY. Although Kennedy and his partners streamlined the Leader, the paper was sold in 1910 to McCormick's brother-in-law DANIEL R. HANNA, who also purchased the News in 1912. Hanna erected the 14-story Leader Bldg. at the E. 6th and Superior location to house his papers, but the Leader still failed to catch up with the Plain Dealer. On 31 Aug. 1917 the parent Cleveland Co. sold the 6-day Leader to the Plain Dealer, merging the Sunday Leader into the News as the Sunday News-Leader.

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