President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 began a modern tradition of the chief executive delivering the annual State of the Union message in person before Congress.
Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution says that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
What we now know as the president’s State of the Union message became an annual tradition in the early days of the republic. George Washington and John Adams delivered their messages in person, and Thomas Jefferson, the third president, sent a written address to Congress — a tradition followed for more than a century until Wilson.
“Almost every other president almost every year has felt that this is too good an opportunity to miss, not to be able to go in person in the drama of the session to give a State of the Union message,” Senate historian Donald Ritchie said in a C-Span interview on the address that aired last February.
President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight. Amid a declining television viewership and technological changes that influence how Americans receive information, Obama is “deploying just about every trendy social media tool to promote” his address, Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning reported.
“Rooted in a quill-and-parchment constitutional clause, the address functions as a high-tech organizing tool for the White House to engage past and present supporters,” Dorning wrote.
The White House yesterday released a six-second Vine video clip that showed Obama saying that “tomorrow night, it’s time to restore opportunity for all.”
Most State of the Union speeches are just “long laundry lists of things that the president wants to see done,” Ritchie said. “They’re not particularly controversial speeches, nor are they particularly inspiring speeches. They’re really wish lists the presidents are putting forward.”
Republican leaders tapped Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the House’s highest-ranking Republican woman, to deliver the opposition response. The released a Vine of the makeshift TV studio where she will deliver her address.