President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the 94th American State of the Union address at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday, an event that will be the last of his two terms in office. In doing so, the president is expected to detail his plans for his final year in office and the tone of the November 2016 election that will decide his successor.
Here are five interesting facts about the event, past and present.
- The White House is taking great lengths to ensure that the speech is available to more than just TV watchers, and will utilize newer tools like Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube to reach viewers across platforms. Of course, the speech hasn’t always been televised. It was first broadcast over radio in December 1923 under then-President Calvin Coolidge, and was televised for the first time in 1947, with former President Harry Truman. Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, had the first live stream of the event online in 2002.
- While former President Jimmy Carter certainly doesn’t hold the record for longest serving president, he did pen the longest State of the Union. At 33,667 words, his 1981 address is the longest written State of the Union to date.
- The address once went by a different name. From 1790 to 1946, it was called the “Annual Message.” The current name was originally an informal title.
- The speech is called for in the Constitution, but former presidents William Harrison and James Garfield never gave the speeches.
- It has obviously become more of a spectacle over the years. The nation’s first president, George Washington, gave quick speeches to joint sessions of Congress, then in Philadelphia, that lasted under 10 minutes. Today it’s a full-fledged event: President Bill Clinton, for instance, gave a speech in 2000 that was interrupted by applause 128 times.