The History of “Hail to the Chief”

Come late Tuesday/early Wednesday we here in America will have (re)elected our President, and it got me thinking about the song that is played whenever a President arrives almost anywhere.  That song is none other than “Hail to the Chief.”

I was wondering what the history of that song is, and while not completely surprising the song was inspired by an English poem by Sir Walter Scott, called “Lady of the Lake;” which was first set to music around 1812.

The first use to herald a President was in 1815 in honor of George Washington and the conclusion of the War of 1812.  It wasn’t used in honor of the position of the Presidency until 1829 with President Andrew Jackson.  It was then used occasionally for various political functions after that, but didn’t become a mainstay announcement of the President’s arrival until 1829, and then President James Polk.  However it wasn’t until the Truman Presidency was the song made the official tribute to the President.

What is interesting is that during the Civil War, both the Confederates, and the Union used this song to announce the arrival of both of their President’s; Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln respectively.

Below is a video of the music, accompanied with the seldom sung lyrics, which I placed below the video, for those who might wish to sing along:

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that’s our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

God bless USA!!