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A brief history of ‘lame duck’ State of the Union addresses




U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill.
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No slave to 24-hour cable news and the Twitterverse, President Thomas Jefferson eschewed delivering public speeches on the State of the Union, choosing instead to send his message to Congress in writing via messenger.

The tradition held for more than a hundred years possibly because Jefferson explained his choice in an 1801 letter to the President of the Senate stating: "[I] have had principal regard to the convenience of the legislature, to the economy of their time, to their relief from the embarrassment of immediate answers on subjects not yet fully before them, and to the benefits thence resulting to the public affairs."

Woodrow Wilson later revived the tradition of delivering the speeches in person, which has had only a temporary break when lame duck Jimmy Carter shied from a speech in 1981. 

Guest:

Margaret Talev, White House Correspondent for Bloomberg

Allan Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History, American University