A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 30, 2010
Lobbyist (Lobbying)

A “lobbyist” is one who engages in “lobbying”—trying to influence public officials (such as members of a legislature) to support the lobbyist’s position on legislation. The “lobbyist” term originally began as “lobby member” (one who frequents the lobby just outside where the public officials are). “Lobby member” is cited in print since 1814 and appears to have been first used in Albany, New York’s capital city. “Lobbying” is recorded in print since 1820 and “lobbyist” is recorded since at least 1842.

There is a myth that the term “lobbyist” was coined by President Ulysses S. Grant (in office from 1869-1877), who often visited Washington, D.C.’s Willard Hotel to smoke and engage in deals in its lobby. However, the word “lobbyist” had been in use long e Grant’s administration.


Wikipedia: Lobbying
Lobbying is the practice of influencing decisions made by the government (in groups or individually). It includes all attempts to influence legislators and officials, whether by other legislators, constituents, or organized groups. A lobbyist is a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest or a member of a lobby. Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying.

Etymology
The BBC holds that “lobbying” comes from the gathering of Members of Parliament and peers in the hallways (or lobbies) of Houses of Parliament before and after parliamentary debates. One story states that the term originated at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, where it was used by Ulysses S. Grant to describe the political wheelers and dealers frequenting the hotel’s lobby in order to access Grant, who was often found there, enjoying a cigar and brandy.

The term “lobbying” appeared in print as early as 1820:

“Other letters from Washington affirm, that members of the Senate, when the compromise question was to be taken in the House, were not only “lobbying about the Representatives’ Chamber” but also active in endeavoring to intimidate certain weak representatives by insulting threats to dissolve the Union.”
— April 1, 1820, New Hampshire Sentinel

Economist Thomas Sowell defends corporate lobbying as simply an example of a group having better knowledge of its interests than the people at large do of theirs.

The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee argued that while there are shortcomings in the regulation of the lobbying industry in the United Kingdom, “The practice of lobbying in order to influence political decisions is a legitimate and necessary part of the democratic process. Individuals and organisations reasonably want to influence decisions that may affect them, those around them, and their environment. Government in turn needs access to the knowledge and views that lobbying can bring.”

Wikipedia: Willard InterContinental Washington
The Willard InterContinental Washington is an historic luxury hotel located two blocks east of the White House in Washington, D.C. Among its facilities are numerous luxurious guest rooms, several restaurants, the famed Round Robin Bar, and voluminous function rooms. It is two blocks from the Metro Center station of the Washington Metro.

History
The hotel’s site, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, has accommodated guests since 1816, but the Willard was formally founded by Henry Willard when he bought the property in 1850. The present twelve-story structure, designed by famed hotel architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, opened in 1901; in 1922 it suffered a fire. It was for many years the only hotel from which one could easily visit all of downtown Washington, and has consequently hosted innumerable dignitaries in its history.

The Willard family sold its share of the hotel in 1946, and due to mismanagement the hotel closed in 1968. A lengthy legal battle ensued, at the end of which the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation purchased the property, held a competition and ultimately awarded it to the Oliver Carr Company and Golding Associates. The two partners then brought in the InterContinental Hotels Group to be a part owner and operator of the hotel. The Willard was subsequently restored to its turn-of-the-century elegance and an office-building contingent was added. The hotel was thus re-opened amid great celebration on August 20, 1986, which was attended by several Supreme Court Justices and distinguished senators such as Edward Kennedy. In the late 1990s, the hotel once again underwent significant restoration.
(...)
Many United States presidents have frequented the Willard, and every president since Franklin Pierce, including George W. Bush, has either slept in or attended an event at the hotel at least once; the hotel is hence also known as “the residence of presidents”. It was the habit of Ulysses S. Grant to drink brandy and smoke a cigar while relaxing in the lobby. Folklore, additionally promulgated by publicists for the hotel, holds that this is the origin of the term “lobbying”, as Grant was often approached by those seeking favors. However, this is probably false, as the verb to lobby is found decades earlier and did not originally refer to Washington politics.

wiseGEEK
What is a Lobbyist?
A lobbyist is an activist usually paid by an interest group to promote their positions to legislatures. A lobbyist can also work to change public opinion through advertising campaigns or by influencing ‘opinion leaders’ or pundits, thereby creating a climate for the change his or her employer desires. The word lobbyist comes from the chambers in which the act of lobbying usually takes place, an anteroom near legislative bodies, for instance, or even the lobby of hotels where important people are staying. In American politics, most lobbyist organizations are headquartered on or near K Street in Washington DC, so “K Street” has become somewhat synonymous for lobbying.

C-SPAN’s Capitol Questions
Where did the term “lobbyist” come from? Richmond, Virginia - 9/21/00
Origins of words are always very difficult to pin down precisely. Most likely, we got the term from the English Parliament, where petitioners would hang out in the corridors and reception rooms outside the chambers in which the legislature met, and try to talk to and persuade individual Members of Parliament to take up their cause as the Members walked in and out of the sessions. The term was in common usage in England by the 1840’s, though its exact origins there are imprecise.

However, wherever lawmakers have met—including Federal Hall in New York, the first seat of our U.S. Congress in 1789, and Congress Hall in Philadelphia, hangers-on and both wealthy and desperate petitioners were seen gathering in the rooms around the assembly, some of which were, and are, called “lobbies.” The reception and meeting area behind the House chamber in the Capitol, for example, is referred to as the “Speaker’s Lobby.”

Another story has it that the lobby of the Willard Hotel in Washington—one of its oldest and grandest—was frequented by wealthy special interest petitioners who were looking to intercept Members of Congress and the President, whose residence was a mere block away, as they came to dine there. It is said that President Ulysses S. Grant wearied of the petitioners whom he scornfully labeled as “the lobbyists.”

The earlier use of the term in the 1840’s in England probably knocks out the Willard as the site of origin, since the hotel was bought by the Willard brothers in 1850, and Grant first began to visit the hotel during his service in the Civil War in the 1860’s. However, both the English and U.S. origins may be valid. Multiple origins for an expression work to reinforce the term and help it get accepted into the common language.

The first official U.S. lobbyist is purported to be William Hull, who was hired in 1792 by Virginia veterans of the Continental Army to persuade Congress to give them additional compensation for their service in the War of Independence.

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary
Main Entry: lobby
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): lob·bied; lob·by·ing
Date: 1837
intransitive verb
: to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation
transitive verb
1 : to promote (as a project) or secure the passage of (as legislation) by influencing public officials
2 : to attempt to influence or sway (as a public official) toward a desired action
lob·by·er noun
lob·by·ism \-ˌi-zəm\ noun
lob·by·ist \-ist\ noun

OCLC WorldCat record
A speech without doors
Author: Lobby-member.; Miscellaneous Pamphlet Collection (Library of Congress)
Publisher: [London] : Printed for J. Williams ..., [1762]
Edition/Format: Book : English

13 April 1814, Spectator (New York, NY), pg. 2:
Mr. Root must have staggered the minds of the agents, lobby members, &c. if his sportive humor, or sarcastic wit, and, to use his own words, “solemn fact,” could have any effect;...

25 March 1817, Albany (NY) Register, pg. 2:
WILLIAM IRVING, who as chairman of a ward meeting in New-York, denounces DE WITT CLINTON for visiting Albany, has forgotten, perhaps, that three years ago he visited A;bany nearly a whole winter as a lobby member, to procure a cahrter for the City Bank.

21 February 1818, National Advocate (New York, NY), pg. 2:
He resides at Glen’s Falls, and has been heretofore employed to advocate, by extraneous influence, the petitions for charters, associations, &c. &c. which have been presented to different legislatures, and is well known as a lobby member.

6 March 1818, The American Beacon and Commercial Dairy (Norfolk, VA), pg. 2:
He ... has been heretofore employed to advocate, by extraneous influence, the petitions for charters, associations, &c. &c. which have been presented to different legislatures, and is well known as a lobby member.

1 April 1820, New Hampshire Sentinel (NH), pg. 1:
The Senate has done little more than to meet and adjourn for some days;—and as I observed from the gallery, the members were rather lobbying about the Representatives chamber than engaged in discussion among themselves.
(...)
Other letters from Washington affirm, that members of the Senate, when the compromise question was to be taken in the House, were not only “lobbying about the Representatives’ Chamber,” but were active in endeavoring to intimidate certain weak representatives by insulting threats to dissolve the Union.

28 February 1825, New-Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette (NH), pg. 2:
See the jesuitical leader parading the lobbies ... with a view to hunt and find out and proscribe the man who ... had played what he calls the traitor to the lobby managers!

Google Books
May 1826, The Reformer (Philadelphia, PA), pg. 70, col. 1:
Rumour says that several of these self-styled reverend divines have been guilty of lobbying for funds.

25 June 1827, New-Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette (NH), pg. 3:
We are sorry that these two divisions [of a party] should fall into a quarrel ... Had not this untoward event occurred, the amalgamation might have lasted a year ... Amalgamation expires with the dispersion of the lobby men!

Google Books
The life and writings of Major Jack Downing [pseud.] of Downingville, away down East in the State of Maine
By Seba Smith
Boston, MA: Lilly, Wait, Colman & Holden
1833
Pg. 173:
I fit the Legislater as long a fighting would do any good, that is, I mean in the caucus, for they wouldn’t let me go right into the (Pg. 174—ed.) Legislater in the day time and talk to ‘em there, because I was only a lobby member. But jest let them know it, lobby members can do as much as any of ‘em on sich kind of business as this.

Google Books
April 1836, The Knickerbocker, or, New York Monthly Magazine (New York, NY), pg. 367:
...who I concluded was what they call in Albany a “lobby member.”

Google Books
The United States of North America as they are; not as they are generally described: being a cure for radicalism
By Thomas Brothers
London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans
1840
Pg. 88:
Then there are the lobby-members, a race very little if any inferior to the real members. Your friend McIlwain, at that time the recorder of the city and county of Philadelphia, you know, Sir, was a lobby member, in the case of obtaining a charter for the bank. It is the business of a lobby member to bribe the real members, in any way that seemeth to them best. The following account of one of these members I take from a New York paper of last year.

A case is reported in the Journal of Commerce, tried before the Judge Ulchoeffer, New York, which was brought by the plaintiff to recover of the defendant compensation for work and labour done; amount claimed, 2000 dollars. The services rendered, and for which pay was claimed, were for “lobbying,” as it is usually called, or endeavouring to procure the passage of the Bergen Port Company bill, by the legislature of New Jersey, in 1837.

Google Books
June 1840, The Knickerbocker, or New York Monthly Magazine (New York, NY), pg. 466:
“Must I exhaust my small means in lobbying, and log-rolling, and making legislative bergains, to secure me that which is mine own?”

Google Books
Notes on the United States of North America during a phrenological visit in 1838-9-40
Volume II
By George Combe
Edinburgh: Maclachlan, Stewart & Company
1841
Pg. 33:
A gentleman who has been a member of the senate of Pennsylvania informed me, that the same mischievous machinery is at work in their legislature. There is extensive jobbing and trating relative to private bills, or bills for the establishment of public companies. The parties who apply for the bill, or their agents, come to Harrisburg while the legislature is in session, and, under pretence of explaining the subject to the members, flatter them, give them suppers, and open their understandings by means of plentiful libations of wine. Many of the representatives are men from county districts, of (Pg. 34—ed.) little education, and humble fortune, but of unquestionable integrity, who would reject with indignation a money bribe, but who unconsciously fall before personal flatteries and champagne. The technical name for these practices is “lobbying.”

In the legislature of New York, some years ago, “lobbying” was reduced to a system. The agents for the various private bills concerted their measures together, and made up lists of all the members of the legislature, specifying those whom they could influence absolutely, those whom they could probably carry, and those (a very small remnant) who were altogether independent; and after “the order of the day,” or list of business before the chambers, was published, they met in a tavern, and took the “yeas and nays” on every bill in which they were interested, either pro or con. The first bill, for instance, was named; (probably one for a charter to a bank); the roll of the representatives was then called, and the different agents answered “yea” or “nay” for the members respectively whose votes they could command. When this was finished, the independent members were distributed according to the best estimate which the agents could form of their probable course of action; the balance was then struck, and the announcement regularly made, the “yeas” or the “nays” have it. So complete was this machinery, and so perfect the sagacity with which the opinions of the independent members were guessed at, that the decisions of the chambers became ludicrous echoes of those of the “lobby!”

16 August 1842, The Evening Post (New York, NY), pg. 2 col. 1:
SYMPTOMS OF DISSOLUTION. - The Whigs of Brooklyn have held a meeting, and appointed a committee of lobbyists to proceed forthwith to Washington to persuade Congress to give up the Land Distribution, in order to secure protection.

29 July 1846, New York (NY) Spectator, pg. 1:
The fact is notorious that the most active, determined and effective of our lobbyists are those sent here in this emergency to look after the interests of various local Democracies.

31 July 1849, New Hampshire Gazette (NH), pg. 2:
This interest and this feeling were taken advantage of and subjected to a constant stimulation by a score of indefatigable lobbyists, who kept up an untiring attack upon the members.

Google News Archive
29 August 1986, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Renovated Willard crowns born-again D.C. downtown” by Ira Krasnow, pt. 3, pg. 3, col. 1:
Ulysses Grant coined the term “lobbyist” in the hotel lobby.

Google Books
February 1987, Orange Coast Magazine (CA), “Wake Up to Willard in Washington, D.C.” by Janet Eastman, pg. 120, col. 3:
You’ll overheat them repeating the stories about Ulysses S. Grant, who often walked the few blocks from the Oval Office to the hotel lobby to spend an evening people-watching, smoking Havana Perfecto cigars, and listening to deal makers (whom he called “lobbyists,” thus coining a new occupation).

NPR
A Lobbyist by Any Other Name?
January 22, 2006
(...)
Mr. JESSE SHEIDLOWER (Editor-At-Large, Oxford English Dictionary): Hi, Liane. How are you?

HANSEN: I’m well, thanks.

Ulysses S. Grant took office in 1869. Did the term lobbyist actually appear in print before that?

SHEIDLOWER: Yes, it appeared in print well before that. And the verb to lobby appears before that still, and not even in relation to Washington. Lobby appears in the early 1830s in Ohio, talking specifically about Ohio local politics, not about national politics.

Lobbyist itself shows up by the late 1840s, then chiefly connected to Washington, but certainly not having anything to do with the Willard Hotel. And if you look through the Washington Post, you don’t see any connection in the entire 19th century between the Willard Hotel and the word lobbyist.

HANSEN: Hmm. So what’s the real origin of the word?

SHEIDLOWER: Well, lobby originally, in the political sense, referred to one of the lobbies in the House of Commons. And you can find examples of this—the OED cites examples back to 1640, talking about this specifically as the place where the public could go to speak to their members of the House of Commons.

FOXNews.com - The O’Reilly Factor
Title: Mr. Popular!
Published: Fri, 29 Jan 2010
Description: Glenn Beck on being named second most popular person on TV
(...)
GLENN BECK: Maybe he thinks “lobbyist” means people who were just standing in the lobby.
BILL O’REILLY: Right.
GLENN BECK: I need somebody with more credentials than someone just standing in the lobby.
BILL O’REILLY: Do you know what president coined the term?
GLENN BECK: Lobbyist?
BILL O’REILLY: Yeah.
GLENN BECK: Probably FDR...or Wilson.
BILL O’REILLY: U.S. Grant. U.S. Grant. Because they were waiting for Grand in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, but he was drunk and they’d get him when he weaved down out of the bar That’s a true story.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, January 30, 2010 • Permalink