“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Bloomington in McLean County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The National Hotel

The National Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 10, 2012
1. The National Hotel Marker
"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 image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, June 10, 2012
2. John W. Ewing
McLean County Museum of History
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."
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Government & PoliticsIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Looking for Lincoln series list.
Location. 40° 28.717′ N, 88° 59.65′ W. Marker is in Bloomington, Illinois, in McLean County. Marker is on West Front Street. Between Center & Main Streets. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bloomington IL 61701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within

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walking distance of this marker. The Rounds Block (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 Phoenix Block (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Center Street Site (about 400 feet away); Major's Hall (about 400 feet away); The Lost Speech (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomington.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 483 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 16, 2012, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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Jul. 9, 2020