You could say the State of the Union speech is a tradition is as old as the U.S. itself.
The constitution requires the president to address congress on the state of the union from “time to time.” The yearly speech was first known as the “Annual Message” and wasn’t officially called the “State of the Union” address until 1947.
Originally, it was a lengthy report on the executive branch and also focused on the budget and economy, but it was in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson turned it into a platform to rally support for his agenda.
So how much time should you set aside if you plan to watch the whole thing?
Last year, President Trump’s speech lasted one hour and 22 minutes… and that’s not even the longest one in the history!
Former president Bill Clinton holds that record at just shy of one hour and 29 minutes.
Former president Barack Obama gave relatively brief SOTU speeches, averaging about one hour. George W. Bush was even faster, averaging 51 minutes.
And the shortest recent SOTUs? That would be Nixon (1972) at 29 minutes, Carter (1979, 1980) each at 32 minutes, and Reagan (1986) at 31 minutes.