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5 Facts About the State of the Union Address

By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker

He shall 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, The Constitution of the United States

On Tuesday February 12th 2013 President Barack Obama will deliver the 224th State of the Union Address. The Constitution of the United States mandates that each year the President shall report to Congress on the condition  or “state” of the country.  It is a tradition that started with our nations first president George Washington.  Below are a few more facts about this event.

  • The address was originally known as the Annual Address until the 1940’s when it informally became known as the State of the Union Address. (Source)
  • Presidents George Washington & John Adams gave Annual Addresses before Congress, but starting with President Thomas Jefferson the address would be submitted to Congress as a written report.  This practice continued until President Woodrow Wilson delivered his 1913 address in person.

The Constitution does not lay out the format in which the State of the Union is to be delivered; just that the President must communicate with Congress in some fashion as to what is going on in the country.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman

  • President Harry S. Truman was the first to give a State of the Union Address on television in 1947.
  • President Johnson was the one who started the tradition of giving state of the union addresses in prime time. He made this decision in order to gain a wider audience.  (Source)
  • President Jimmy Carter gave the longest address with 33,667 words. (Source)

If you are a social worker who will be watching this years State of the Union Address and you like to tweet; please join me in live blogging the event using #swunitedTelevision coverage is scheduled to begin at 9 PM.


Photo Credit:

Picture of President Obama By White House (Pete Souza) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/2010_State_of_the_Union.jpg

Picture of Harry S. Truman By Frank Gatteri, United States Army Signal Corps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Harry-truman.jpg

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

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