History of Hail Columbia

Hail Columbia is one of the national patriotic songs of America.

Its melody was first composed as a march in honor of the election of Washington as President in 1789.

The credit of its composition lies between a German musician named Johannes Roth and a Professor Phylo, both resident in Philadelphia at that time. Roth is stated to have the stronger claim.

The piece, intended purely as an instrumental piece, was named ‘The President’s March,’ and superseded a previous composition named ‘General Washington’s March.’

In 1798 the song ‘Hail Columbia’ was written by Judge Joseph Hopkinson for an actor named Gilbert Fox, who sang it, adapted to the tune, ‘The President’s March,’ at a benefit he held in that year.


The song was written on political lines in favor of a party named the Federals, who, with President Adams at its head, did not favor a suggested alliance with France against England.

It was spoken of by one of the papers as ‘The most ridiculous bombast and adulation to the monarchical party.’