"Celebrating July Fourth at the White House"



The First Fourth of July Celebration at the President's House

Although John Adams was the first president to occupy the executive mansion, it was Thomas Jefferson who established the traditions of a July 4th celebration at the White House.



Slideshow  ›  Fourth of July Celebrations at the White House

Until presidents began the practice of leaving Washington during the summer months, the Fourth of July reception was a great day for display of patriotism at the White House. Although a public reception is no longer held, presidents and their families continued to host garden events and parties over the years.



Fourth of July and the President's House  ›  Facts & Trivia

Fourth of July Celebrations at the White House in the Nineteenth Century, prominent birthdays, weddings, festivals, parades, fireworks, "turtle soup" and more.



The United States Marine Band

On July 11, 1798, President John Adams approved legislation that officially brought "The President's Own" United States Marine Band into being, making the Marine Band America's oldest professional musical organization. The fledgling band consisted of a "drum major, fife major and 32 drums and fifes." When the nation's capital relocated from Philadelphia to the new Federal city of Washington in 1800, the Marine Band came with the chief executive and made its White House debut at President and Mrs. John Adams' first New Year's Day reception in 1801. It has provided music for every inauguration since the time of Thomas Jefferson, the president who gave them the title, "The President's Own." The Marine Band performed at Jefferson's first reception held on July 4, 1801 and have been an integral part of any White House celebration ever since.

One of most famous White House musical personalities was John Philip Sousa, who served five presidents as leader of the Marine Band in the White House from 1880 to 1892. A formidable showman, Sousa was the first American-born leader of the Marine Band . He was also a composer of operettas, songs, suites and more than 100 marches represented by "Semper Fidelis" (1888), the Washington Post (1889), the Liberty Bell (1893) and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1897). These marches, performed on the Fourth of July, remain patriotic crowd pleasers.


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