Presidential Elections

Inaugurations and the First One Hundred Days

Who delivered the first State of the Union address?

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered the first message before a joint session of Congress in New York. During Washington’s administration, and that of John Adams, it was customary for the president to appear before a joint session of Congress and deliver the address personally. Each House subsequently debated and approved official replies to the president’s message, which were then delivered personally to the president by delegations of senators and representatives. America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, began the precedent of sending written reports, which continued until Woodrow Wilson convened Congress in 1913 and delivered his message verbally.


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