1783 George Washington by William Dunlap


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January 8th, 1790: President George Washington gives the first ever State of the Union Address to the assembled Congress in New York City. As written in the Constitution, 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.” Why the first President decided to give the address in the middle of winter is beyond us, but it set the precedent for a State of the Union address to be made around this time year annually. However, giving the speech in person was put out of practice shortly after Washington’s term when Thomas Jefferson was eventually elected. Jefferson preferred to send out a written message to Congress, and it wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson became president that the original form was revitalized. Now a televised prime time event, the State of the Union has come a long way since Washington first made his address.