John R. McLean (publisher)

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John R. McLean
John Roll McLean

(1848-09-17)September 17, 1848
DiedJune 9, 1916(1916-06-09) (aged 67)
Burial placeRock Creek Cemetery
Alma materHarvard University,
Heidelberg University
Political partyDemocratic
ChildrenEdward Beale McLean

John Roll McLean (September 17, 1848 – June 9, 1916)[1] was an American businessman. He was the owner and publisher of The Washington Post and The Cincinnati Enquirer, and part owner of two professional baseball teams.[2][3] He is the namesake of McLean, Virginia.[4][5][6]

Early life and family[edit]

McLean was born in Cincinnati on September 17, 1848, to Mary and Washington McLean.[6] His sister, Mildred, was the wife of General William Babcock Hazen and Admiral George Dewey. He married Emily Beale and they had one son, Edward Beale McLean.[6]

McLean attended public schools in Cincinnati and attended Harvard University and Heidelberg University.[7][8]


After graduation from Heidelberg University, McLean began working at his father's newspaper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, eventually becoming editor. He acquired his father's interest in the paper in 1873.[9]

By the 1880s, McLean was a prominent businessperson who owned a wide variety of newspaper, real estate, and transportation holdings.[10] In 1895, McLean purchased the New York Morning Journal, but within six months, he sold the paper to William Randolph Hearst.[8]

McLean's "Friendship" estate, located in Washington, D.C., built in 1898.

By the early 1900s, he was the owner and publisher of The Washington Post and The Cincinnati Enquirer, and was also a partner in the ownership of the Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball team of the American Association and the Cincinnati Outlaw Reds of the Union Association.[2]

McLean also was a stockholder in street railway companies, including the Capital Traction Company, and owned the controlling stock in the Washington Gas Light Company. In addition to his holdings, McLean was an elected director of the American Security and Trust Company and Riggs National Bank.[3][9]

In 1904, he and Senator Stephen Benton Elkins built the Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad.[11][6] One of McLean's last business ventures was the development of fluorite mines in Illinois.[8]

Political activism[edit]

McLean was a long-time delegate to the Democratic National Committee, representing the state of Ohio at Democratic national conventions of 1884, 1888, 1892, 1896, and 1900. He was a candidate for the United States Senate in 1885 and received the Democratic Party's nomination for the Ohio governor's seat in 1899. He lost both elections.[1][12]

At the 1896 Democratic Nation Convention in Chicago, McLean received fifty-four votes on the first ballot for the U.S. Presidential nomination, and advanced to the fourth round, receiving 207 total votes.[7] He declined the Vice Presidential nomination. Despite this, he advanced to the fifth round of balloting with 809 total votes.[13]

Death and legacy[edit]

McLean died on June 9, 1916, aged 67.[1] He is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery.

At the time of his death, his estate was valued at around $25 million which in 2023 would be valued at approximately $700 million; inflation-adjusted.[8]

McLean, Virginia, which grew up around the railroad he established, is named for him.[6] His former 70-acre summer estate, Friendship, is now McLean Gardens.[14][5][10]


  1. ^ a b c "John R. McLean Obituary". The Daily Herald. June 16, 1916. p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Riess, Steven A. (1999). Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era p. 55. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-2520-6775-4.
  3. ^ a b Herrick, Carole L. (2015-01-19). Legendary Locals of McLean. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4671-0190-5.
  4. ^ "Origins of McLean, Virginia". Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  5. ^ a b Zafar, Nina (2019-11-07). "Along Wisconsin Ave. in NW, 23-acre oasis of McLean Gardens braces for change". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  6. ^ a b c d e "The McLean Family - Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  7. ^ a b Gates, Merrill Edwards (1906). Men of Mark in America: Ideals of American Life Told in Biographies of Eminent Living Americans. Men of Mark Publishing Company.
  8. ^ a b c d Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising Agents and Allied Interests. Fourth Estate Publishing Company. 1916.
  9. ^ a b Kohler, Sue A.; Carson, Jeffrey R.; Arts, United States Commission of Fine (1978). Sixteenth Street Architecture. Commission of Fine Arts.
  10. ^ a b "McLean Gardens - History". Retrieved 2023-09-27.
  11. ^ Guillaudeu, David A.; Mccray, Paul E. (2013). Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. Arcadia Publishing. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7385-9792-8.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Ohio Secretary of State (1905). Ohio election statistics. pages 377-378 of pdf file
  13. ^ "Official proceedings of the Democratic national convention held in Chicago, Ill., July 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th, 1896."; pg. 350 [1]
  14. ^ Brenner, Joel Glenn (December 18, 1993). "McLean Gardens: Suburb in the City". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 20, 2018.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Horace L. Chapman
Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Ohio
Succeeded by
James Kilbourne