In 1889 the American newspaper, The Washington Post, commissioned Sousa (the then director of the United States Marine Band) to write a march to be played at the paper’s children’s essay competition award ceremony. Sousa’s The Washington Post march was an immediate hit and it has remained one of his best-known works. This is due in no small part to the fact that it is written in 6/8 time, making it admirably suited to the new two-step dance which was quickly gaining popularity over the waltz. The march made his publisher a fortune, but Sousa himself only received $35 for it (less than £1000 in today’s money). Sousa became distinctly more savvy in the years following this and made sure that his efforts were appropriately rewarded!
Today the Washington Post newspaper continues to play tribute to the man who first gave it world-wide fame: a resplendent life-sized portrait of him in his scarlet Marine Band uniform hangs in the John Philip Sousa Community Room of the Washington Post Building.