Photo Information

On July 11, 1798 President John Adams signed an Act of Congress which reorganized the Marine Corps and allowed for "thirty two drums and fifes." These early musicians formed what is now known as "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band.

Photo by Master Sgt. Kristin duBois

Marine Band Celebrates 217 Years of Providing Music

9 Jul 2014 | Master Sgt. Kristin duBois United States Marine Band

On July 11, 1798, President John Adams approved and signed an Act of Congress which reorganized the Marine Corps and allowed for drummers and fifers—the musicians of a newly-formed Marine Band: 

“The Fifth Congress of the United States at the Second Session, Begun and held at the city of Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania, on Monday, the thirteenth of November, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven. An Act for establishing and organizing a marine corps. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, that in addition to the present military establishment, there shall be raised and organized a corps of marines, which shall consist of one major, four captains, sixteen first lieutenants, twelve second lieutenants, forty eight serjeants [sic], forty eight corporals, thirty two drums and fifes, and seven hundred and twenty privates, including the marines who have been enlisted, or are authorized to be raised for the naval armament; and the said corps may be formed into as many companies or detachments as the President of the United States shall direct, with a proper distribution of the commissioned and non commissioned officers and musicians to each company or detachment.” 

For 217 years the Marine Band has served every President but George Washington, participated in every inaugural since Thomas Jefferson’s, and led the funeral procession for John F. Kennedy. The band has had a front row seat to history at the White House since the first New Year’s Day reception in 1800, has honored the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery since its earliest years, performed nationwide since John Philip Sousa initiated the tradition in 1891, and has played “The Star Spangled Banner” long before it officially became the National Anthem. “The President’s Own” is honored to have provided the American soundtrack then and today, and to continue to carry out its unique mission of providing music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.