Today in History:

Music of the Civil War

Patriotic Songs


America J.P. Smith
For nearly a hundred years, "America" vied with "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the unofficial national anthem. In Lincoln's day it was the one more commonly heard and was included in most Union Civil War "songsters." The tune is German in origin and was taken from a German song book by Samuel Smith, who wrote the words in time for its first performance on July 4, 1831. It was moderately well known until the Civil War when, with patriotic fervor everywhere, it took the North by storm.

Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean T. Becket, D. Shaw
Written in 1843 and extremely popular during the Lincoln years, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" was usually included among the patriotic songs played by the Marine Band for the President's ceremonial gatherings.

Hail, Columbia P. Phile
"Hail, Columbia" was the first American national anthem. It was composed for George Washington's presidential inaugural as "President's March." It was first performed with lyrics during President John Adams' administration. This anthem was performed for nearly every formal occasion over which Lincoln presided, generally following immediately after "Hail to the Chief." After singer de Hegermann-Lindencrone sang for Lincoln he said, "I think I might become a musician if I heard you often, but so far I know only two tunes. He explained, these were "Hail, Columbia," because he had to stand up and take off his hat when it was sung - the other was the one where he didn't have to stand up.