Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 07:03:40 -0400
From: Evan Morris
Subject: Re: Lobby

Barry -- Your post concerning my column was unintentionally ambiguous, so I
just wanted to emphasize to folks here that, while I did recount it, I did
not fall for the Grant story. The relevant paragraph of said column
(proving that I am not a total feeb) follows:

However, while Grant may indeed have haunted hotel lobbies,
the verb "to lobby" antedates his administration by many years. The
first citation for the usage in the Oxford English Dictionary is from
1808. Its exact derivation is unclear, though it seems certain that the
term refers to the lobby of a legislative assembly where the hired guns
of special interests traditionally gather to ply their trade. "Lobbying"
as an idiom appears to be an American invention, although the usage
quickly spread to Britain and Canada.

Evan Morris

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UGA.CC.UGA.EDU]On Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, May 11, 1998 6:14 AM
Subject: Lobby

Evan Morris ("The Word Detective"/son of MORRIS DICTIONARY OF WORD AND
PHRASE ORIGINS authors) will have the word "lobby" in the next issue of his
column. As a paying customer of the free column, I get an advanced copy.
This may be too late, but I've done work on the "lobby."
As I've posted here before, my sister was told by a tour guide on a
Washington, D.C. trip that "lobby" comes from a hotel that President Lincoln
stayed at. Evan Morris received the same false etymology, but the President
has been changed to President Grant.
The Worldcat title search wasn't every helpful, but turned up these

1704--A STEP TO THE LOBBY. This book (printed in London) has a "satire,
political" subject. I haven't read it; it seems 100 years removed from
"lobby" as we know it.
1787--THE LOBBY LOUNGER by Charles Stuart. This London play also probably
nothing to do with our 19th-century political usage, but it antedates OED's
1803 "lobby-lounger" citation.

NILES' REGISTER is on CD-ROM indexed from 1811-1849. NILES' covered
national political news, so I expected it to have "lobby." Indeed, it had
many good citations:

February 4, 1832, pp. 409-410.
"Lobby members" is used. These would later be called "lobbyists."
first citation for "lobby member" is 1848. "Lobby" is also used here: "And
the delegates, on either side, have just about the same right to hold and
express opinions, in the 'lobby' or elsewhere, (except on the floor of the
senate), as the venerable senator himself." It appears that "lobby" can be
taken literally.

July 21, 1832, pp. 381-2.
The title for the story is "LOBBY MEMBERS."

July 28, 1832, pg. 388, col. 1.
The one-paragraph story is titled "LOBBY MEMBERS."

August 4, 1838, pg. 368, col. 2.
The one-paragraph story is titled "_Lobby services_."

I can't at the moment find the copy of my first citation, which would
volume 28, pg. 415. This pushes "lobby" to the 1820s and is the
citation. OED's 1808 citation was taken from 1852 and needs to be
in full.