The National Hotel, founded in 1827, was on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. and was a major landmark; "Apart from the Capitol and the White House, there is no building in the city so historic as this" remarked the Washington Post in 1930. Presidents Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Abraham Lincoln were among the many guests staying there. A post-inaugural banquet was held there for President Lincoln.
Henry Clay, who ran unsuccessfully for US president three times, actually LIVED at the National, in Room 116, for many years until he died in 1852.
The National had many scandals in its day; the most notorious was a mysterious intestinal sickness, which afflicted hundreds, and killed dozens, of guests in 1857. Some speculated at the time it was an attempt to poison the Southern-leaning President-Elect James Buchanan, who had recently been staying at the hotel.
During the Civil War, the National was a headquarters for Southerners in Washington. The War Department kept their official news censor office there, but the Union presence didn't discourage Southern sympathizers from taking rooms. John Wilkes Booth, for example, stayed in Room 228 while plotting Lincoln's assassination. The hotel was an easy walk from Ford's Theater.
In 1921 two guests were killed in a major fire, and the National never fully recovered. Sold in 1929 to the D.C. government, it was closed in 1931, but used as an armory until 1942, when it was razed.
From 1961 to about 2000, the D.C. Employment Security building was at the former National Hotel site; afterwards that building was razed to make way for the Newseum, an interactive museum that promotes free speech.