james-sanderson

Hail to the Chief
  • Hail to the Chief
  • United States Army Band
Play

Hail to the Chief  -  The United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own”

Happy birthday, George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799).

Washington’s Birthday is observed the third Monday of February in honor George Washington, the first President of the United States. This date is commonly called Presidents’ Day and many groups honor the legacy of past presidents on this date.

Verses from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake, including “Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances!” were set to music around 1812 by the songwriter James Sanderson.  A version of Lady of the Lake debuted in New York May 8, 1812, and “Hail to the Chief” was published in Philadelphia about the same time.

Association with the President first occurred in 1815, when it was played to honor both George Washington and the end of the War of 1812 (under the name “Wreaths for the Chieftain”). On July 4, 1828, the U.S. Marine Band performed the song at a ceremony for the formal opening of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which was attended by President John Quincy Adams. Andrew Jackson was the first living President to have the song used to honor his position in 1829, and it was played at Martin Van Buren’s inauguration in 1837. Julia Tyler, second wife of John Tyler, requested its use to announce the arrival of the President. Her successor as First Lady, Sarah Childress Polk, encouraged its regular use in this manner after it was used at James Polk’s inauguration; William Seale says, “Polk was not an impressive figure, so some announcement was necessary to avoid the embarrassment of his entering a crowded room unnoticed. At large affairs the band…rolled the drums as they played the march…and a way was cleared for the President.” Under the term of Harry Truman the Department of Defense made it the official tribute to the President.