Thursday, June 22, 2006

First Ladies and the State of the Union Address

This is an interesting article that looks at First Ladies and their involvement with the State of the Union Address. Some of the article is very anecdotal (like President Johnson’s grandson caused a scene in the middle of one) while some is more political (Rosalynn Carter edited her husband’s 1978 speech and offered suggestions, some of which he took), but it definitely is a different way to look at the State of the Union address.

Some interesting things to note:
- President Johnson was the first to make a mention of his wife in his Presidential Address (1964)
- Thomas Jefferson through to William Taft did not make an actual speech for their state of the union address – they sent a written address to Congress and then had it printed in newspapers. This was because Jefferson felt the speech was too much of a “pageant” (the article’s word choice) and thus set a tradition was followed until Woodrow Wilson.

All State of the Union Addresses can be found, in text form, at The American Presidency Project. C-SPAN offers some of them (Truman forward) and includes video for some of the more recent ones (really the last three), but I couldn’t get the video links to work. I’m sure they do…if you know what you are doing! Which I proved that I didn’t! But I wanted to include this because, for teaching purposes, videos can be invaluable. Students are used to seeing, rather than reading. Sad but true!

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