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Silver-and-ivory trowel presented to Ulysses S. Grant in 1870 during ceremonies laying the cornerstone of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City

By combining the ceremonial role of a monarch with the responsibilities of a Prime Minister, the Constitution created an executive with symbolic as well as administrative duties. As formal head of the nation, the president may solemnly place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or festively open a fair. These activities at times seem trivial, but they offer important opportunities for the chief executive to connect with Americans who are the ultimate source of presidential power.

Sheet music, "Hail to the Chief"
The United States Marine Band, established in 1798 and named the "President's Own" by Thomas Jefferson, has provided a regal air to the presidency and the White House for two hundred years.

John Tyler's administration established the tradition of playing "Hail to the Chief" as a ceremonial introduction announcing the arrival of the president. First Lady Julia Tyler reportedly instructed the United States Marine Band to play the song whenever her husband made an official appearance.

John Philip Sousa (bottom left) directing the United States Marine Band at the White House in 1930 for President Herbert Hoover (on bottom step), British ambassador Sir Ronald Lindsay, and officials of the Gridiron Club.

Courtesy of United States Marine Band


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