Who Wrote the Song “Hail to the Chief” and Why Is it Associated With the President of the United States?

When the American President enters a room, “Hail to the Chief “is preceded by a fanfare of four drum and bugle ruffles and flourishes.

The number of ruffles and flourishes indicates the importance of the person being introduced, not “Hail to the Chief”.

The march comes from the English dramatization of Sir Walter Scott’s poem “The Lady of the Lake” and which became a popular band number for introducing any important person around 1812.

As a fanfare, four ruffles and flourishes is the highest American honor.

President Carter did away with “Hail to the Chief’ for a time during his term.

Because it was a popular melody commonly used for dignitaries, there is no record of when “Hail to the Chief’ made the transition into a signature for the president. It just evolved.

In 1810, James Sanderson wrote to a friend that Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake” was being made into a play in London.

Soon after, Scott received a note from an army officer friend including the music for the Boat Song, now known as “Hail to the Chief.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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