The Red and the Blue

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For the 2012 Italian movie by Giuseppe Piccioni, see The Red and the Blue (film)
For the Italian animated television series, see The Red and the Blue (TV series)

The Red and Blue may refer to:

  1. A nickname used collectively for the University of Pennsylvania athletic teams. The name derives from the two school colors that are apparent on the university's coat-of-arms. This is not to be confused with the more or less "official" nickname used since the 1890s, the Quakers.
  2. A popular song of the University of Pennsylvania.

Origins of the nickname and use of colors[edit]

There are several legends relating how these colors came to be used by the University of Pennsylvania. Whether they are fact or fiction remains unknown.

  1. Harvard and Yale. In the early days of the university there was a race among the students of Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. The Harvard team wore their famous crimson; Yale wore her traditional blue. When the Penn participants were asked which colors would represent their team, they replied that they would be wearing the colors of the two teams they would soon beat. The Penn athletes won the race, and Penn teams used those colors from then on.
  2. George Washington's Clothing. It is rumored that George Washington visited the university during one of his terms as President of the United States. He is supposed to have arrived wearing a blue jacket and breeches with a red waistcoat. The next day, the students decked the university in these colors and donned red and blue themselves to honor the president. Afterward, it was decided to use these colors by the university.
  3. Penn's and Franklin's Coats-of-Arms. A more probable story is the one that follows. When the university was creating a seal and coat-of arms it decided to use elements from both Benjamin Franklin's and William Penn's coats-of-arms—Franklin had helped to found the university, and Penn had founded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Franklin's coat-of-arms contained the color red and Penn's featured a blue chevron.

As University Archivist Francis James Dallett pointed out in 1983: "Eighteenth-century American academic institutions simply did not have colors." This leaves one inclined to relegate the above explanations to the realm of local myth.

A resolution adopted by the university trustees on May 17, 1910, states: "The colors shall be red and blue,...The colors [of the University of Pennsylvania] shall conform to the present standards used by the United States Government in its flags." Thus we have a rough idea of when Penn adopted the colors red and blue, at least officially.


"The Red and Blue," while not the official alma mater of the University of Pennsylvania, is so popular that it is often played in place of it at official university functions. (The alma mater of the university is Hail, Pennsylvania!) The song dates from the end of the nineteenth century. Traditionally men would remove their hats for this song and wave them in time to the refrain. One still sees remnants of this custom when students wave their arms while singing the song's chorus.

The words were written by Harry E. Westervelt (Class of 1898), and the music was composed by William John Goeckel (B.A. 1895, LL.B. 1896). Goeckel was known among his classmates as a musician and composer and was both a member and leader of the Penn Glee Club during his time at Penn.[1] The song's copyright was originally held by W. H. Boner & Company.

The original lyrics are as follows:

Come, all ye loyal classmen now,
In hall and campus through,
Lift up your hearts and voices for
The royal Red and Blue.
Fair Harvard has her crimson,
Old Yale her colors too,
But for dear Pennsylvania,
We wear the Red and Blue.


Hurrah, Hurrah, Pennsylvania,
Hurrah for the Red and the Blue;
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah,
Hurrah for the Red and Blue.

One color's in the blushing rose,
The other tints the clouds,
And when together both disclose,
We're happy as the gods.
We ask no other emblem,
No other sign to view,
We only ask to see and cheer
Our colors Red and Blue.
How often when on fields of sport,
We've seen our boys go through,
The very air was rent in twain
With cheers for Red and Blue.
We knew that vict'ry then was ours,
All else we might eschew,
If only we could wave and sing
Our colors Red and Blue.
And then upon the breast of her
Whose heart beats warm and true,
It is the dearest sight of all
To see our Red and Blue.
She wears them with a smile so bright,
It wakes our hearts anew,
To swear eternal loyalty,
To dear old Red and Blue.
And now thro' all the years to come,
In midst of toil and care,
We'll get new inspiration from
The colors waving there.
And when to all our college life
We've said our last adieu,
We'll never say adieu to thee,
Our colors Red and Blue.[2]


  1. ^ "William John Goeckel (1871-1922)". The University of Pennsylvania Archives. Archived from the original on July 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  2. ^ Songs of the University of Pennsylvania: Brought under one cover by William Otto Miller '04. First edition. Hinds & Noble. New York: 1903.


  • Cheney, Edward Potts. History of the University of Pennsylvania, 1740-1940. (1940.)

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