It was supposed to be a big night for the crew of the USS Constitution. In December, 1812, the ship defeated His Majesty’s La Guerriere, and a ball was being held in their honor. Until that one-upping Stephen Decatur came busting in with news of his ship, the USS United States, and her victory over the Macedonian. He even brought the ship’s flag for first lady Dolly Madison. The band broke into a rendition of this song, “Hail Columbia”, recorded here by Walter Huston in 1947.
Philip Phile composed the piece for George Washington’s first inauguration in 1789. For much of the next century, it was the de facto national anthem. Today, you’ll hear it played as the Vice-President’s entrance song, like the JV version of Hail to the Chief.