Government and Politics

The American Presidency

Why does the president of the United States give a State of the Union Address?

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to annually present a joint session of Congress (attended by representatives and senators) with a status report on the nation. Presidents George Washington (1732–1799) and John Adams (1735–1826), the first and second presidents, delivered their messages in person. Thereafter the State of the Union was sent as a written message, which was read in Congress. But President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924) delivered his messages in person, including that of January 1918, when he delivered the Fourteen Points—his formulation of a peace program for Europe once World War I (1914–18) had ended. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) held office (beginning in 1933), all U.S. presidents have made formal addresses to Congress.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App