Behind the Patriotic Hymn: Hail Columbia

Hail, Columbia was composed by Philip Phile in 1789. He composed the song for the first inauguration of George Washington and titled the song “The President’s March”.

In 1798, Joseph Hopkinson added lyrics and the song became known as “Hail, Columbia”.  During the 18th Century, Columbia was a poetic name often used to identify the United States.

The song was used as the de facto national anthem in the United States for most of the 19th Century.  The song lost popularity after World War I and was eventually replaced by “The Star-Spangled Banner“.

Hail, Columbia was used as the anthem for the President until it was replaced by “Hail to the Chief” in the early 19th Century.

Hail, Columbia is the official anthem for the Vice President. When played for the VP, it is preceded by four ruffles and flourishes.

The song should not be confused with “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” or “Stand Columbia” {the alma mater of Columbia University”.}

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