Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FACTBOX - Key facts about the U.S. State of the Union

When U.S. President George W. Bush gives his State of the Union speech on Monday, he will continue a constitutionally mandated tradition begun over 200 years ago by George Washington.

Following are some key facts about presidential State of the Union messages:


* State of the Union messages to Congress by the president are required by Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution which says, "He 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."

* The State of the Union has become an annual speech given before a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives chamber at the U.S. Capitol.

* George Washington gave the first State of the Union speech on Jan. 8, 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital.

* Starting with Thomas Jefferson's first State of the Union in 1801 until William Howard Taft's last message in 1912, the State of the Union was a written report sent to Congress. Woodrow Wilson resumed the tradition of giving the State of the Union message in a speech to Congress.

* The phrase "State of the Union" did not become widely used until after 1935, when Franklin Roosevelt started using the term.


- "We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want -- which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear." -- Franklin Roosevelt, Jan. 6, 1941.

- "As you know, I have provided to the special prosecutor voluntarily a great deal of material. I believe that I have provided all the material that he needs to conclude his investigations ... I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough." -- Richard Nixon, Jan. 30, 1974.

- "Yes, we will have our differences. But let us always remember -- what unites us far outweighs whatever divides us. Those who sent us here to serve them -- the millions of Americans watching and listening tonight -- expect this of us. Let's prove to them and to ourselves that democracy works even in an election year." -- Ronald Reagan, Jan. 25, 1988.

- "Some time in the next 10 to 20 years, the major security threat this country will face will come from the enemies of the nation state: the narco-traffickers and the terrorists and the organized criminals, who will be organized together, working together, with increasing access to ever-more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons." -- Bill Clinton, Jan. 27, 2000.

- "States like these, (Iran, Iraq and North Korea) and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic." -- George W. Bush, Jan 29, 2002


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