"Hail to the Chief" is the official Presidential Anthem of the United States. The song's playing accompanies the appearance of the President of the United States at many public events. For major official occasions, the United States Marine Band and other military ensembles are generally the performers, so directives of the United States Department of Defense have, since 1954, been the main basis for according it official status. It is preceded by four ruffles and flourishes when played for the President. The song is also played during a former President's state funeral. The song is in the public domain.
Verses from Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake, including "The Boat Song" ("Hail to the Chief") with which the clan welcomes the arrival by boat of their chieftain Roderick Dhu, were set to music around 1812 by the songwriter James Sanderson (c. 1769 – c. 1841); a self-taught English violinist and the conductor of the Surrey Theatre, London, who wrote many songs for local theatrical productions during the 1790s and the early years of the 19th century:
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.
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