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State of the Union: Historical Facts


Why do presidents give a State of the Union address?

The U.S. Constitution requires the president "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.

State of the Union facts:

  • George Washington gave the first State of the Union address in 1790.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the phrase "State of the Union" for the message and the address in the 1940s, and it became the popular phrasing from then on.
  • Calvin Coolidge gave the first radio broadcast of the address in 1923.
  • Harry Truman gave the first televised address in 1947.
  • George W. Bush was the first president to make the address available live on the Internet in 2002.
  • The first official, televised opposition response to a president’s annual message occurred in 1966, according to the Senate.gov website. Since 1982, it has become customary for the opposition party, usually members of Congress, to provide responses.
  • Ronald Reagan was the first president to invite special guests to sit beside the first lady and recognize them during the speech, in 1982.

Source: AP, history.house.gov

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