James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief II

Lead: The use of the stirring, heroic melody, Hail to the Chief, was ritualized by First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, dealing with her husband’s public relations problems. The story behind the tune, however, is not very good news for a politician.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk, Eleventh President of the United States, was short, usually unkempt and wore cheap, ill-fitting suits. He and Sarah were not universally popular in Washington society and he could walk into a room and be completely ignored. To call attention to his presence and increase respect, Sarah Polk decreed that he should have a theme song. Whenever he entered the room, the Marine Band was instructed to play Hail to the Chief.

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James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief I

Lead: Frustrated that her husband was being ignored at social and political events, the First Lady determined that the president needed a theme song. Of such are traditions born.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk was an unprepossessing man. He was short, he usually sported a bad haircut, and he wore cheap oversized suits. Often the President of the United States was ignored when he entered the room. In short, he was a public relation expert's nightmare. Nevertheless, Polk had a secret political weapon. It was his wife, Sarah.

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Marian Anderson: Voice of Freedom

Lead: The headline read, "Mrs. Roosevelt Takes Stand: Resigns from D.A.R." Marian Anderson, the black concert artist had become the focus of a struggle against racism.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1939 Sol Hurok, one of America's foremost artist management agents began to put together the season schedule of his brilliant contralto, Marian Anderson. Fresh from a very successful tour of Europe Anderson's fees were rising and Hurok wanted to book her into the best halls in the country. In Washington, the finest artists played Constitutional Hall owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Anderson was singing on the West Coast when word began to filter through the company. The negotiations for Constitution Hall were breaking down. The Daughters of the American Revolution would not let her sing there. She was a woman of color. Negroes were not permitted to perform at Constitutional Hall in 1939.

 

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