State of the Union Address

President Donald Trump recently gave the State of the Union Address, but what exactly is  the State of the Union Address and why is it important?

The State of the Union Address is an annual message delivered by the President of The United States to a joint session of the United States Congress at the beginning of each calendar year in office. The message usually consists of an economic report of the nation, national priorities and a legislative agenda.

Marshfield history teacher Bruce Bryant said the State of the Union Address is a sort of ‘annual report,’ and that it updates the american people about topics relevant to the nation.

   “The President of the United States is the person who delivers, in a sense, a ‘welfare report’ of how the nation is doing overall, including how the economy is doing, how different social issues are being handled and if domestic affairs are improving or declining. There is also information given out about what there is to expect from the future and different plans there are to be set in action. There is always a rebuttal from the opposing party to show the other side of the spectrum and get things from two perspectives,” Bryant said.

The State of the Union Address is held in the United States House of Representatives. In Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution, it says The President “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.” 

According to Marshfield history teacher Chad Scriven, the State of the Union speech is typically held towards the beginning of the year.

“The State of the Union Address is usually held around the beginning of January, or the beginning of the new year. The State of the Union Address is delivered in the House Chamber. However, prior to the Capitol’s move to Washington, D.C., the Annual Message was delivered in the Senate Chamber,” Scriven said.

 The origins of the State of the Union Address date back to when President George Washington delivered the first standard annual message before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1790 in New York City, and then in the U.S. capital. In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, insisting it was too monarchical. Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy, furthermore an in-person address to Congress has been delivered nearly every year since. However, there have been exceptions to this rule, with some messages being given solely in writing, and others given both in writing and orally. The last president to give a written message without a spoken address was President James Carter in 1981, days before his term ended.

The State of the Union Address will continue to be a tradition that the nation will carry on for many decades to come. It helps the nation stay up to date on current events, as well as upholding a long tradition of informing citizens throughout the years.