The National Hotel
Looking for Lincoln
— 1846 —
"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
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."
Erected 2009 by Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, City of Bloomington & McLean County Museum of History.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Looking for Lincoln series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1846.
Location. 40° 28.726′ N, 88° 59.647′
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Rounds Block (a few steps from this marker); The Crothers and Chew Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Miller-Davis Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker); Miller-Davis Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Asahel Gridley's Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); The Dewenter's Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Phoenix Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Sigmund Livingston (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 511 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. 2. submitted on December 18, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. 3. submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.