First State of the Union

Article 2, section 3, clause 1 of the United States Constitution states that 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.”[1] On January 8, 1790, George Washington did just that.

The first state of the Union Address had a limited amount of detail in it. The President started by welcoming North Carolina to the Union, praising the country’s rising credit, and the new nation’s general goodwill. The speech had a general sense of friendship attached to Washington’s ever-present warning and hope for unity in the future.

To conclude, Washington stated, “The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.”[2] This first address was simplistic and uncomplicated. However, it was vital for the stability of the new nation.

Washington’s state of the Union Address was only 1,089 words, making it the shortest State of the Union to date.


[1] “The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription,” National Archives, November 4, 2015, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript.
[2] George Washington, First Annual Address to Congress Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203158

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