Jimmy Carter delivered the longest written State of the Union address in 1981, with 33,667 words. Bill Clinton made the longest speech, which was 9,190 words long, in 1995. In 1966, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen and then-House Minority Leader Gerald Ford delivered the first opposition rebuttal to the president's address. They each spoke for about 20 minutes.
The most recent State of the Union was spoken word by word by President Donald Trump from 12:30 p.m. EST on January 30, 2019. It lasted nearly an hour and covered many topics including immigration, infrastructure, national security, and more.
It is estimated that Jimmy Carter's lengthy speech took three hours to deliver!
In addition to being the longest, President Trump's speech was also the most expensive per word when calculated by the Washington Post. The report used a computer program to count the number of times each word was said during the speech and came up with a price tag of $400,000 for its publication. The newspaper noted that this was likely an underestimation since it did not include "costs such as staff time to analyze speech patterns."
The State of the Union has been given annually by U.S. presidents since 1/7/01. It is considered one of the most important speeches of the year because presidents outline their policies and priorities for the coming year.
Bill Clinton holds the record for the longest in-person State of the Union address, whether measured by the quantity of words (9,190 in 1995) or the time it took to give it (one hour, twenty-eight minutes, and forty-nine seconds in 2000). Obama's speeches had an average length of 6,824 words. In 2010, he delivered a speech of 7,304 words. In 2011, his speech was even longer at 7,620 words.
Obama's 2012 State of the Union speech was by far the longest ever, with an estimated 20,000 words. It also made history for being the first State of the Union address to be streamed live online.
In addition to long sentences and paragraphs, lengthy State of the Union addresses are distinguished by their frequent references to figures from history or current events. For example, Roosevelt mentioned the "three-fifths compromise" three times in his 1944 speech.
The shortest State of the Union address was given in 1845 by James Polk who needed only two hours and fifty minutes to cover the subject. The most recent short speech was given in 2001 by George W. Bush who needed only five hours and fifty-two minutes to deliver it.
Polk's speech was written by Thomas Hart Benton, one of America's earliest prominent political cartoonists. The cartoon that accompanied it shows a grown man shaking hands with a child, saying, "This is what God does to nations that go to war with each other."
At 1 hour and 28 minutes, it was the longest State of the Union address in recorded history. This State of the Union speech is remarkable for being the first since President Reagan's 1986 address to be delivered without the participation of all nine members of the Supreme Court. The absence of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan prevented them from attending this year's speech.
The longest State of the Union address until now was given by William Howard Taft at 80 minutes. He spoke on February 27, 1910. The current speaker, Paul Ryan, will finish his speech at 9:05 p.m. on January 5, 2017.
Taft's address was very long because he wanted to cover many topics including a summary of legislation that had been passed by Congress that year. He also wanted to encourage Americans to vote for people who would protect their interests in the future.
Because this is such an important annual event, presidents give new speeches every year instead of relying on old ones. For example, Barack Obama gave two State of the Union addresses before he even took office in 2009; George W. Bush gave three State of the Union addresses during his term and Bill Clinton gave five State of the Union addresses.
Their speaker is on his left... Since his initial address, his manner has given the occasion the attention and seriousness it deserves. Despite its significance, his address is the shortest State of the Union Address ever delivered, at only 1,089 words.
It was on this day in 1947 that President Harry S. Truman delivered his annual message to Congress. The previous year's speech had been longer than usual, at nearly 2,500 words, so many members were absent when President Truman spoke again at this ceremony.
He began by noting that "the American people have a right to know what kind of policy their government intends to pursue," and went on to say that "the decisions before us will affect the lives of Americans for years to come." He concluded by asking lawmakers to approve legislation creating the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council (NSC).
President Truman had been sick with pneumonia when he gave his initial address to Congress in 1945; however, he recovered in time to deliver another strong message about national security. That same year, Senator Joseph McCarthy led hearings that badly damaged the reputations of numerous public officials. In addition, the president received reports that the Soviet Union was developing an atomic weapon.
In 1947, President Truman's speeches were recorded on a new medium: the television camera.
The grammatical complexity of State of the Union speeches has dropped as the form of delivery has switched from writing to speaking, and as the audience for the addresses has migrated from politicians to the general public. 8. Two presidents never gave an Annual Message or a State of the Union Address. They are James Buchanan in 1861 and Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
Buchanan died in 1865 before the election that made Lincoln president. Lincoln therefore did not give a State of the Union address during his first year in office. It was not considered an official duty until the 6th Congress in 1866 when a law was passed requiring all presidents to give a speech within 15 days of being elected.
Lincoln gave two speeches in 1866: one on February 16 to both houses of the 6th Congress and another on March 5 to a joint session of Congress. He also is said to have given a third speech on January 1, 1867 but this has not been confirmed by any written document. A complete record of Lincoln's speeches was not created until after his death. The first list of his speeches was compiled by Charles Francis Adams Jr. in 1873. This list included speeches that had been published in newspapers at the time they were given but it did not include all of Lincoln's speeches. A more comprehensive list was later created by John G. Nicolay and John Hay who managed Lincoln's personal affairs while he was president.