This Day in History: President Washington gives the first (and shortest) State of the Union Address

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington gave the first State of the Union address (then known as “the Annual Message”). He delivered it in the Senate Chamber of Federal Hall in New York City, where Congress was meeting at the time.

President Washington opened his efficient speech—the shortest ever, at just 1,081 words—by celebrating the “recent accession of the important State of North Carolina to the Constitution of the United States.”

Only eleven states had ratified our Nation’s charter when Washington took office. North Carolina was the twelfth; Rhode Island would not become the thirteenth until the following May.

Here’s Washington’s handwritten manuscript of the speech, courtesy of Wikimedia:



Mark your calendars! President Obama will deliver this year’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 28