Monday, November 2, 2020

Episode 549 (11-2-20): Hail to the Chief: Virginia-born Presidents and Water

Click to listen to episode (4:56)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-30-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 2, 2020.  This episode is a revised version of an episode from November 2012.

MUSIC – ~10 sec – instrumental

This U.S. election week, we feature famous music and a history mystery.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds, and see if you know how this song connects to eight historic Virginians who all had important career connections to water.

MUSIC  - ~41 sec - instrumental

If you guessed, the U.S. presidency, you’re right!  You’ve been listening to “Hail to the Chief,” played by the U.S. Army Band.  Since 1815 this song has been used to announce and honor U.S. presidents.  Virginia is the birthplace of eight presidents, and water-based events and issues influenced the life and legacy of each, as the following examples show.

Prior to becoming the first president, George Washington recognized the importance of naval strategy in the Revolutionary War and led battles and movements involving various rivers, including the Hudson, Delaware, and York.

Third president Thomas Jefferson faced maritime challenges by Great Britain, France, and pirates.

Fourth president James Madison led the United States into the War of 1812 with Britain in part over obstruction of shipping and capture of sailors.

Fifth president James Monroe stretched the country’s sphere of influence from the Atlantic to the Pacific by declaring in 1823 that the United States would not tolerate further European colonization in the Western Hemisphere.

Ninth president William Henry Harrison’s 1840 presidential campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too,” was based on his military operations in 1811 against the Shawnees on the Tippecanoe River in Indiana Territory.

Tenth president John Tyler’s administration negotiated the 1842 Webster-Ashburton treaty with Britain, which established the international border through the Great Lakes, provided for open navigation in that area, and called for joint efforts by the two countries to suppress slave trading along the coast of Africa.

Twelfth president Zachary Taylor’s administration negotiated the 1850 Clayton-Bulwer treaty with Britain, which guaranteed access for both countries to any future canal across Central America between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

And twenty-eighth president Woodrow Wilson led the nation into World War I in large part over attacks in the Atlantic Ocean by German submarines on U.S. ships.

Water was an important part of the life story of these Virginia-born presidents.  Time will tell how that may also be true for the person steering the U.S. ship of state come January 20, 2021.

Thanks to the U.S. Army Band for making this week’s music available for public use, and we close with one more flourish from “Hail to the Chief.”

MUSIC  - ~ 3 sec – instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 135, 11-5-12.

The version of “Four Ruffles and Flourishes, Hail to the Chief” heard in this episode is by the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”), from the “Ceremonial Music Guide” online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Potomac River, looking downstream from the grounds of George Washington’s home Mt. Vernon, in Fairfax County, Va., January 10, 2005.

Official portrait of President George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart, 1796.  Image accessed from the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, online at  Other presidential portraits and images in the National Portrait Gallery’s “America’s Presidents” exhibition are available online at this link.


The following information on the eight Virginia-born U.S. Presidents was taken from the University of Virginia Miller Center, “U.S. Presidents,” online at; and from, “Zachary Taylor,” online at 

1st President George Washington (1732-1799) was born in Westmoreland County, Va. (Pope’s Creek); his term of office was 1789-1797.

3rd President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was born in Goochland County, Va. (Shadwell plantation); his term of office was 1801-1809.

4th President James Madison (1751-1836) was born in King George County, Va. (Port Conway); his term of office was 1809-1817.

5th President James Monroe (1758-1831) was born in Westmoreland County, Va.; his term of office was 1817-1825.

9th President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) was born in Charles City County Va. (Berkeley plantation); his term of office was March-April 1841.

10th President John Tyler (1790-1862) was born in Charles City County, Va.; his term of office was 1841-1845.

12th President Zachary Taylor (1784-1850) was born in Orange County, Va.; his term of office was 1849-1850.

28th President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was born in Staunton, Va.; his term of office was 1913-1921.


Sam Bateman, “Freedom of navigation and the Law of the Sea; Rights and freedoms in the South China Sea –A practical perspective,” Asia and the Pacific Policy Society Policy Forum, January 21, 2020, online at, “Tecumseh” [Shawnee chieftain], online at

C-Span, “Origin of ‘Hail to the Chief,’” May 16, 1999, video (6 min./26 sec.) online at, “Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850),” online at

Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Battle of Tippecanoe,” online at;
“Tecumseh,” online at; and
“Webster-Ashburton Treaty,” online at

Wilbur Devereux Jones, “The Influence of Slavery on the Webster-Ashburton Negotiations,” Journal of Southern History, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Feb. 1956), pages 48-58, accessed online at (subscription may be required for access).

Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, George Washington’s Mt. Vernon:
“Battle of the Chesapeake,” online at;
“Historic Area,” online at;
“Revolutionary War Battles,” online at; and
“On the Role of Water in the Revolutionary War,” by Nathaniel Philbrick, YouTube video (2 min./43 sec.) online at, “Monroe Doctrine (1823),” online at

Public Broadcasting System (PBS) WGBH/American Experience/Biography Web site, “The Presidents/John Tyler,” online at

Bil Gilbert, “The Dying Tecumseh and the Birth of a Legend,” Smithsonian Magazine, July 1995, online at

The White House, “Presidents,” online at (used for information on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and William Henry Harrison).

Abigail Tucker, “Why Do We Play ‘Hail to the Chief’ for the President?,” Smithsonian Magazine, January 2017, online at

University of Virginia Miller Center, “American Presidents: A Reference Resource,” online at (used for information on Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson).


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “History” subject category.

For a previous Virginia Water Radio episode focusing on the legend of George Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River, please see Episode 304, 2-22-16: George Washington, Walter Johnson, and the Rappahannock River.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 History Theme
1.2 – Virginia history and life in present-day Virginia.
1.4 – lives of people associated with major holidays.2.5 – lives of people associated with major holidays.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.5 – role of Virginia in the American Revolution.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.6 – causes, people, and results of the American Revolution.
USI.7 – Articles of Confederation, Constitution, and first five presidents.
USI.8 – westward expansion and reform in American from 1801—1861.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.5 – understanding of development of American political system.
VUS.6 – major events in Virginia and the United States in the first half of the 19th Century.
VUS.9 – emerging role of the United States in world affairs in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.