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King of the Lobby

Hardback
, 240 pages

20 halftones

ISBN:
9780801893971
April 2010
$43.00

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King of the Lobby

The Life and Times of Sam Ward, Man-About-Washington in the Gilded Age

King of the Lobby tells the story of how one man harnessed delicious food, fine wine, and good conversation to the task of becoming the most influential lobbyist of the Gilded Age.

Sam Ward was a colorful character. Scion of an old and honorable family, best friend of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and charming man-about-Washington, Ward held his own in an era crowded with larger-than-life personalities. Living by the motto that the shortest route between a pending bill and a congressman’s "aye" was through his stomach, Ward elegantly entertained political elites in return for their votes.

At a time when waves of scandal washed over Washington, the popular press railed against the wickedness of the lobby, and self-righteous politicians predicted that special interests would cause the downfall of democratic government, Sam Ward still reigned supreme. By the early 1870s, he had earned the title "King of the Lobby" and jokingly referred to himself as "Rex Vestiari." Ward cultivated a style of lobbying that survives today in the form of expensive golf outings, extravagant dinners, and luxurious vacations.

Kathryn Allamong Jacob's engaging account shows how the "king" earned his crown through cookery and conversation and how this son of wealth and privilege helped to create a questionable profession in a city that then, as now, rested on power and influence.

Kathryn Allamong Jacob is curator of manuscripts at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. She is the author of Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C., also published by Johns Hopkins, and Capital Elites: High Society in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War.

"Ward earned the title 'King of the Lobby' by applying savoir faire, gastronomy and a genius for social combinations to the hitherto crude process of influencing votes in Congress... Using Ward's own words allows Jacob to illuminate his vivid personality."

"A wonderful book. The author explores a protean figure with much to tell us about the evolving nature of politics and government in the age of the Civil War. The author’s great accomplishment here is to make Sam Ward come alive."

"Jacob's trim and surprising biography of Sam Ward... will not change most people's view of what is essentially a hustler's profession. But she brilliantly shows how, in the hands of a master, lobbying can be lifted to the level of art."

"Jacob enthralls readers with anecdotes of Ward beguiling a skeptical press and demonstrating persuasiveness to members of Congress... a crisply written study, making excellent use of new sources and providing historical perspective through sprightly stories enlarging our understanding of the phenomenon of the lobbyist. Sure to please both serious researchers and general readers."

"In the delectable biography, King of the Lobby, Kathryn Allamong Jacob serves up the life and times of this protean character."

"Jacob details how a swashbuckling scion of a wealthy New York familysettled into his lobbying career in Washington, D.C....and producespage-turning tales of ethically challenged reporters... [and] a new breedof lobbyist in Reconstruction-era Washington: the 'lobbyess.'"

"Despite the fairly short length of the book the author sticks as much into the pages as possible. There is no long-winded verbiage in this book. It's a quick read but one that leaves you fulfilled and enlightened."

"Now virtually forgotten, [Sam Ward] was an immensely able, influential and engaging character who has been rescued from obscurity by Kathryn Allamong Jacob."

"A splendid biography... of an American original."

"In this deft and diverting volume, Kathryn Jacob shows that lobbyists may do good by encouraging elected officials to set aside their differences and work together."

"Considerable achievement."

" King of the Lobby offers not only an engaging portrait of an important lobbyist, but also provides a helpful introduction to lobbying in the Gilded Age."

"While reading this excellent book the reader learns fascinating nuggets about lobbying and how it evolved over time until today."

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