The National Hotel

The National Hotel (HM130U)

Location: Bloomington, IL 61701 McLean County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 28.717', W 88° 59.65'

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"Why if that one is named Democrat, I will name this one Whig," Lincoln said to John Ewing the proprietor. Such was Lincoln's affection for the family of John Ewing, who ran the hotel in the 1840's. John had nicknamed one of his sons "Democrat." Lincoln, being a member of the Whig Party, thought that his party ought to be represented as well. The nickname stuck, and thereafter Judge W. G. Ewing was known as "Whig." Ewing's thirty-room hotel, built in 1833, was large in comparison to hotels at other county seats. It was a two-story frame building. The first and second stories had porches. Entry was made through a framed gate into a large stable-yard where the hotel's hostler took the traveler's horse and carriage. Lodging was fifty cents a night, with supper, bed, breakfast, and feed for the horse included. Lodgers at the hotel included the owner's family, maids, stable hands, travelers, young families, and single teenagers.

While traveling on the circuit, decent lodging for attorneys was a hit-or-miss proposition. Some hotels had just one private room, which the judge usually claimed, and open rooms, where everyone else slept. Also called taverns, locals would gather to learn of the latest news and fashions from the travelers.

John W. Ewing was in succession: a farmer, hotel-keeper, manufacturer, and politician. His Scots-Irish family had lived in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The Stevensons and Ewings intermarried bringing the Ewing name into the Adlai E. Stevenson political dynasty. Ewing ran the hotel from 1844 to about 1850. He partnered with William Flagg in reaper manufacturing, where he crossed paths with Cyrus McCormick. Ewing, a Democrat, ran a losing race against Ashael Gridley for Illinois Senate and was elected fifth mayor of Bloomington. Ewing's son, James, grew up knowing Lincoln. After the 1860 election he met Lincoln on the street. Lincoln said to Ewing. "So, you have become a lawyer, my advice to you is to stick to the law and keep out of politics."

HM NumberHM130U
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 3:00pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 330967 N 4482791
Decimal Degrees40.47861667, -88.99416667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 28.717', W 88° 59.65'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 28' 43.02" N, 88° 59' 39.00" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)309
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 104 W Front St, Bloomington IL 61701, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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