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State of the Union Address

George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003.

The State of the Union Address is the annual event where the President of the United States normally speaks to a joint session of the Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate), about the status of the country. It is typically delivered on the last Tuesday in January, although there is no such provision written in law, and done so in the House chamber.

Modelled after the Speech from the Throne, the requirement for the address is written into the United States Constitution:

"The President shall from time to time give to 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 first address was made by George Washington on January 8, 1790. The manner of the address has changed over time. Between 1801 and 1913 the address was written and then sent to Congress and read by a clerk rather than being spoken by the President. The speech to both houses was revived by Woodrow Wilson despite some initial controversy.

Calvin Coolidge's 1923 speech was the first to be broadcast on radio. The actual term "State of the Union" did not become widely used until after 1935 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt began using the phrase. Harry S. Truman's 1947 address was the first to be broadcast on television.

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