Lincoln, Lobbyists, and Lemon Verbena: What might these three things have in common? The Willard InterContinental Hotel, of course.
Abraham Lincoln became a hotel guest shortly before his first inauguration as president in 1861. He arrived abruptly on February 23 after an assassination plot in Baltimore changed his travel plans. He was joined soon after by his wife and sons, remaining until his inauguration on March 4.
At noon on March 4, Lincoln left the hotel with outgoing President Buchanan to ride down Pennsylvania Avenue enroute the Capitol. President Lincoln returned to the hotel after the inaugural ceremonies to watch the parade and enjoy his inaugural luncheon. The menu consisted of Mock Turtle Soup, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Parsley Potatoes and Blackberry Pie.
The American legend surrounding the term ‘lobbyist’ originated at the Willard Hotel when Ulysses S. Grant was in office (1869-1877). Apparently President Grant would frequent the Willard Hotel to enjoy brandy and a cigar, and while he was there, he’d be hounded by petitioners asking for legislative favors or jobs. It is said that President Grant coined the term by referring to the petitioners as “those damn lobbyists.”
Grant most likely was coining the phrase for American idiom, as the phrase was in common use in England a few decades before. But in the United States, the ancestry of the word Lobbyists was born at the Willard.
Next week, we are honored to mention that guests staying at the Willard InterContinental Hotel during President Obama’s Second Inauguration, will be greeted with a commemorative Lemon Verbena Bath Bar and a Sweet Dreams card making a reference to when the President moved into the White House in 2009.