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State of the Union Address


President Ford at the State of the Union

On February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump fulfilled his constitutional duty to "give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union" (Article II, section 3). Presidents George Washington and John Adams delivered their messages in person, but in 1801 Thomas Jefferson chose to send his in writing. That precedent held until Woodrow Wilson decided to deliver his message in person in 1913, a tradition that continues today. Franklin Roosevelt referred to it as the "State of the Union Address," a title that became official during the Harry Truman administration. The first radio broadcast of the message occurred in 1923, following a limited but successful experimentation with radio in 1922. Truman's 1947 address was the first to be televised. In 1966 the oppositon party began offering a televised resonse to the president's speech. View a list of speakers before joint sessions of Congress. Read a report from the Congressional Research Service. See a list of opposition responses to the annual address. Each year, one member of the president's cabinet is absent from the address, to maintain the line of succession in case of an emergency.