In 1889, the owners of The Washington Post newspaper requested that John Philip Sousa, the leader of the United States Marine Band, compose a march for the newspaper's essay contest awards ceremony. Sousa obliged; "The Washington Post March" was introduced at the ceremony on June 15, 1889, and it became quite popular. It led to a British journalist dubbing Sousa "The March King". Sousa is honored in The Washington Post building for his contribution to the newspaper and his country.
The opening strain of the march is famous and familiar to many. Typically, the march is played at a tempo of 110 to 120 beats per minute, rarely any faster.
March enthusiasts have argued that the trio sections's mellow and moving phrases are among Sousa's most musical. Six sudden eighth notes move the melody along. Its unusually calm break strain is a simple adaptation of the trio melody. It then moves on to the first trio repeat, where the low brass begins an even more mellow countermelody.