Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 12

Criminal Court and City Council, 1846


To familiarize the student with the responsibilities of city council in 1846. To discuss the types of crimes and corresponding punishments dispensed in the Criminal Court in Cleveland in 1846.



burglary, false pretenses, promissory note,division of the question,
grand larceny, resolution, draying, per annum, select committee,
expediency, pet. Larceny, standing committee, alderman


  1. Compare and contrast the duties and responsibilities of City Council in 1846 and today.
  2. Compare and contrast the crimes and corresponding sentences dispensed in the Criminal Court in Cleveland in 1846 and today.


  1. General Instructions: Review the vocabulary terms with which students might not be familiar.
  2. Distribute copies of Handouts 1, 2, 3, and 4 have the students examine the documents and complete the questions for discussion below.
    (a) Why do you think it was sometimes necessary to order council members to appear at council meetings?
    (b) For what did petitions usually ask council?
    (c) Why would motions have to be put in writing?
    (d) Why do you think the Council discussed big spending bills first?
    (e) Why did Council limit the time a member could intervene to change a decision voted on by Council?
    (f) How do the crimes punished in Criminal Court compare to crimes today?
    (g) How do the punishments handed out by the court, in 1846, compare to those today?
    (h) Which punishment do you think fit or did not fit the crime? Why?
    (i) What other punishment do you think the court could have handed down?
  3. Have students make a list of duties which city council members have today which they would not have had in 1846.

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