One of President Clinton's favorite activities is traveling around the
country to meet and talk to America's citizens. He relies not only on
airplanes and helicopters, but also on the presidential motorcade to get
him safely and quickly from place to place. The President's official
vehicle in a motorcade is maintained by the United States Secret Service,
and the support vehicles are maintained by the White House Military
Office. These limousines and other vehicles are designed to provide the
Commander in Chief with all the necessary equipment to handle emergency
The President's Limousine
William McKinley was the first U.S. President to ride in an automobile,
but it was during Theodore Roosevelt's Administration that the first
government-owned car, a white Stanley Steamer, came into use. President
Taft so fancied the "horseless carriage" that he cleared out the
federal stables to make a garage. Woodrow Wilson rode to his 1913
Inauguration in a horse-drawn carriage but once in office proved an
enthusiastic fan of motorized travel, even joining the American
Automobile Association. President Warren Harding was the first to ride
to his Inauguration by car, a Packard Twin-Six, and the first qualified
driver to be elected President.
In 1950, the White House received ten specially built automobiles --
including a convertible with a Plexiglas roof, nicknamed "Bubbletop,"
which served Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and carried John F.
Kennedy to his Inauguration.
"The President's Own"
If you've ever seen the President in person or at an official event on
television, you may have heard "Hail to the Chief" playing in the
background. The President has his own band to play that song and many
American favorites. This special group of some 160 Marine Corps members,
known as the United States Marine Band ("The President's Own"), provides
music for the President and his guests at official and social occasions
at the White House, and frequently performs for American citizens.
"The President's Own" provides music for one of
the many official events at the White House.
For over 200 years, Presidents, their visitors, and millions of Americans
have enjoyed the music of the Band. "The President's Own" made its White
House debut at a reception given by President and Mrs. John Adams on New
Year's Day, 1801, and since that time the Band has furnished music for
every President. It traveled with President Abraham Lincoln when he
delivered the Gettysburg Address and played at the dedications of the
Statue of Liberty, the Washington Monument, and the Vietnam Veterans
There are many stories about "The President's Own." President Rutherford
Hayes, not liking to stay up late, used to instruct the group to play
"Home Sweet Home" right after White House dinners, hoping his guests
would take the hint and leave. President Warren Harding loved music and
could play several instruments; on many occasions he joined the musicians
during rehearsals. "The Marine Band is the only force that cannot be
transferred from the Washington area without my express permission,"
President Kennedy once declared. A musician himself, President Clinton
enjoys listening to the Band.
"The President's Own" holds a special place in our Nation's heritage, and
we can be proud that it has carried the rich sounds of America around the
world. The music the Band plays is a stirring reminder of our history and
the great traditions of the American Presidency.