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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Willard Inter-Continental Hotel

Civil War to Civil Rights

 

—Downtown Heritage Trail —

 
Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 18, 2008
1. Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Marker
"Civil War to Civil Rights Downtown Heritage Trail"
Inscription. "This hotel, in fact, may be much more justly called the center of Washington and the Union than either the Capitol, the White House or the State Department. . ."
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Civil War reporter for the Atlantic Monthly

At 6:30 a.m. in late February 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln and his security team headed by Alan Pinkerton slipped into what was then called Willard's Hotel, an earlier version of the hotel now at this site. Assassination threats dictated this quiet arrival. The Lincoln family stayed there for ten days prior to the inauguration on March 4th. Willard's was hosting an unsuccessful peace conference at the time, a last ditch effort by delegates from 21 states to avert war.

Julia Ward Howe, a hotel guest during the war was awakened one night to the sound of Union troops marching by, singing as they went. Then and there she penned the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the song that became the Union anthem.

Later, President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the word "lobbyist" in this hotel. The president frequently enjoyed relaxing with a brandy and a cigar in Willard's lobby. As word spread about his nightly ritual, many men congregated there, waiting to approach him about their causes. Grant called them lobbyists and the label has remained.

There has been a hotel on
Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Marker - Updated image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2015
2. Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Marker - Updated
This updated version of the marker uses a different picture of Julia Ward Howe.
this site since 1816; young Henry Willard became manager in 1847 and bought it with his brother in 1850. During the Civil War, rooms cost between $2.75 and $4 per night and included lavish meals. In August 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. finished work on his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in his suite at the Willard.

When it was built in 1901, the current Willard Inter-Continental Hotel was one of Washington's first skyscrapers. The Beaux Arts structure was designed by Henry Hardenbergh whose work includes the Plaza Hotel and the original Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
 
Erected by Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.6.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights, the Lincoln 1861 Inaugural Train Stops, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.789′ N, 77° 1.925′ W. Marker is in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 14th Street, NW (U.S. 1) and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, on the right when traveling south on 14th Street, NW. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20004, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. National Press Club (a few steps from this marker); The New Willard (a few steps
Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, September 13, 2016
3. Willard Inter-Continental Hotel Marker
The marker is seen here in this view to the north up 14th Street, NW. The Willard is to the left of the marker.
from this marker); Julia Ward Howe (a few steps from this marker); The Peace Convention (a few steps from this marker); Jean Monnet (within shouting distance of this marker); Reserve Officers Association of the United States (within shouting distance of this marker); The United States Court of Claims (within shouting distance of this marker); Joseph Baer Danzansky (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown.
 
More about this marker. The marker displays several illustrations:
On the upper right is a drawing of Willard's Hotel. Washington, March 11, 1860. J. C. & H. A. Willard.

Below that another drawing is captioned, The newspaper correspondents who flocked to Washington to cover the Civil War clustered in these buildings on 14th Street near Willard's Hotel.

At the bottom right is a portrait of Julia Ward Howe, who ... wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic while staying at the hotel. It became the Union anthem.

On the lower left are two photographs showing
Willard's Hotel image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2015
4. Willard's Hotel
Washington,March 11, 1860
J. C. & H. A. Willard

Close-up of image on marker
The Willard Inter-Continental Hotel today.
 
Also see . . .
1. Trail to Freedom - Part A. Courtesy "YouTube" and "The Lincoln Institute." Leaving Illinois, Lincoln's Inaugural Journey was the "Trail to Freedom"! (Submitted on May 29, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

2. Trail to Freedom - Part B. Courtesy "YouTube" and "The Lincoln Institue." Leaving Illinois, Lincoln's Inaugural Journey was the "Trail to Freedom"! (Submitted on May 29, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

3. Video - - "Abraham Lincoln Biography. . ." - (Courtesy - YouTube)::. (Submitted on February 15, 2013.)
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicCivil RightsGovernmentNotable BuildingsPoliticsWar, US Civil
 
Julia Ward Howe image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 28, 2015
5. Julia Ward Howe
Julia Ward Howe wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” while staying at Willard's
Close-up of image on marker
Willard Inter-Continental, 14th and Pennsylvania, NW image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 18, 2008
6. Willard Inter-Continental, 14th and Pennsylvania, NW
The marker is behind the yellow tour bus in this view.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 13, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 3,601 times since then and 73 times this year. Last updated on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1. submitted on March 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2. submitted on January 15, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   3. submitted on September 13, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   4, 5. submitted on January 15, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.   6. submitted on March 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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