Washington hotel lays historic claim to longtime political practice of “lobbying”

Photo feature by Ronald Baygents

WASHINGTON, June 24 (KUNA) — Tourists and Washington residents who visit the lobby of the downtown Willard Hotel can find a historical display indicating that the word “lobby” originated there.
The term “lobby” is known widely as the act of attempting to influence decisions made by government officials. The hotel lobby was used by President Ulysses Grant, during his administration in 1869-77, to meet with political advocates seeking access to Grant, and the word “lobby” came into more widespread use after that.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many scandals and fraudulent activities are associated with the Grant administration. Grant reportedly grumbled in 1870, over a cigar and brandy in front of the Willard lobby fireplace, about the “lobbyists” hanging around him there, trying to gain influence.
While the Willard lays claim to the origins of the word “lobby,” historians have found that the term “lobbying” also appeared in print as early as 1820, and may have had its roots in the gathering of members of the British Parliament in its hallways in London. (end) rm.rk