National Hotel = Gadsby’s Hotel of “The Man Who Put up at Gadsby’s”

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

First appearing in his Washington letter to the Territorial Enterprise on March 1, 1868, the story of “The Man Who Stopped at Gadsby’s”[i] was a tale that stuck with Twain: he repeated it in full in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad.[ii] Twain initially relates the story in his dispatch to the Enterprise in relation to a recently arrived office-seeker in Washington pursuing appointment as the Postmaster of San Francisco.

[i] “Mark Twain’s Letters from Washington.” Territorial Enterprise, 1 March 1868.

[ii] Twain, Mark. A Tramp Abroad. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1907, p. 244 – 250.

According to the supplement to the 50th anniversary edition of the Evening Star, published on December 16, 1902, “William Gadsby gave his name to the hotel at the corner of 3d street and the avenue.” (p. 13.) The Gadsby Hotel subsequently became the National Hotel. (ES, 6 January 1903, p. 11.) From older newspaper records it appears that the name “Gadsby’s Hotel” had fallen out of currency before the Civil War. An auction notice in on the front page of the Evening Star on 20 June 1856 refers to “the Washington House (formerly Gadsby’s Hotel,) situated on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Third street.”

[1] A Tramp Abroad: 246


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