Donald Trump's SOTU fiasco: Historians say it's unprecedentedHistorians in the News
tags: historians, State of the Union, shutdown, Trump
In light of President Trump's decision to delay his State of the Union address until after the government shutdown has ended, an inevitable question arises: Has this kind of finagling over the president's big annual speech to Congress ever happened before?
The answer is no, although it's important to note that State of the Union addresses have not always existed in the form we're accustomed to seeing today. Thomas Jefferson established the precedent in 1801 of delivering an address to Congress -- but in writing, not in person. It wasn't until Woodrow Wilson in 1913 that presidents began to trek to Capitol Hill to deliver the big speech live.
"Wilson is credited with transforming the annual message from a kind of rote listing of accomplishments and issues to a defining moment for the ruling party's agenda," Gautham Rao, a history professor at American University, told Salon by email.