4 nov

Good Morning everyone!

In order to learn more about the lobbies and how things started, we have to go back in time!



Technically, the lobby has existed since the first amendment of the American Constitution, was adopted in 1791; after the ratification of 1789.

According to the constitution of United States of America, the “Congress shall make no law respecting […] prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” With this bill, citizens have won the right to assemble and express themselves freely. Now, it’s possible to address its own demands to the government.


If we look at the etymology of the word “lobby”, we find several sources, from it, there is a famous anecdote, which has been repeated in many books.

From 1861 to 1865, America went through a period of civil war. it was Grant who was elected after the Johnson presidency. This man spent a lot of time at Willard Hotel, rather than staying at the White House, which was in a poor condition. As time goes by, people started to recognize him. Several interest groups were waiting in the “lobby” every morning to talk to him, so he decides to call them: lobbyists. We were in a time of great corruption!


Over time, we have seen people like Sam Ward and Samuel Colt gain importance and became famous personalities. In the 1800s and until 1930 it was a time of corruption, lies and bribe. Samuel Colt, who was a businessman, offered colt guns to parliamentary who helped him in 1840. Sam Ward, on his side was named “the king of the lobbies”, he was famous for these excesses, on corruption. at the end of his life he clearly said, « I do not say I am proud of what I have done but I am not ashamed « .



It is really hard to give a certain date or a time period which reflects the birth of lobby in France. We refer often to some historical cases; for instance, in the middle ages lobby mechanism have been used more than once. Indeed between 1315 and 1321 many wealthy landowners revolted against the countess Mahaut to get the right to hunt freely, they used gift, or they sometimes frightened her to get what they wanted.

However, it is easier to state how lobby became very poorly looked upon by the French population, during the French Revolution and more precisely with the Allarde Decree written in 1791, Lobbies named as « corporation » were forbidden. The first times lobbyists were on the other hand clearly approved and even advised happened during the Vichy regime which was one of the saddest times for France history cooperating with nazis. We can easily imagine why France still have a negative connotation thinking about lobbies.


We will see next time, how things have evolved on a legal aspect!

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