State of the Union and Presidential Addresses

The Constitution directs the President to “from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient” (Article II, Section 3). Learn how this custom has changed over the years and why it is an important connection between the President and the people.

President Roosevelt Gives the Annual Address to a Joint Session of Congress Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
President Roosevelt Gives the Annual Address to a Joint Session of Congress

Records and Photographs

John F. Kennedy’s Message to Congress
A marked-up version of President Kennedy's 1961 Annual Message to Congress.

Thomas Jefferson’s Message
A hand-written letter from President Thomas Jefferson to Congress in 1803 encouraging the expansion of commercial interests in the West.

A President’s Message was Read
A 1937 photograph of a reading clerk reading President Franklin D. Roosevelt's message to Congress.

Blogs and Highlights

The State of the Union: Showtime
A blog detailing the modern State of the Union custom.

A “Troublesome and Greatly Derided Custom”—Answering the Annual Message
A blog examining the progression of the opposition-party’s response to the State of the Union.

White Tie and Tails?—The 1936 Annual Message
A blog outlining the question all Members of Congress had on their minds before attending the 1936 Annual Message: what do I wear?

The First Televised Evening State of the Union Address
A historical highlight describing President Lyndon B. Johnson’s televised nighttime State of the Union Address in 1965.

President John F. Kennedy’s First State of the Union Address
A historical highlight describing President John F. Kennedy’s first State of the Union in 1961.

The First Evening Annual Message
A historical highlight about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1936 decision to deliver his Annual Message in the evening.

Videos

Visit the multimedia search page and search “State of the Union” for historical news footage of State of the Union Addresses.