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Addressing America
Test yourself with our State of the Union quiz

By Sean Doorly

The State of the Union message is a speech delivered by the President to Congress and the nation. Much like a CEO of a major corporation, The chief executive (that's the Mr. President to you) reports on the performance of the country, accomplishments of the American people and goals for the future.

Since George Washington's first speech to Congress, the State of the Union message has enjoyed some interesting milestones -- from the first TV broadcast to the first live webcast. Click through our quiz and find out cool facts about this famous presidential address.



1. Which early president delivered the shortest address?
Abraham Lincoln
Thomas Jefferson
Andrew Jackson
George Washington

President-wise you can't get much earlier than George Washington. He delivered his first message to Congress in 1790, and it contained only 833 words. If Washington delivered the speech today, it would've lasted about five to seven minutes. You could change a tire in that time.

2. Which president delivered the longest State of the Union to date?
Harry S. Truman
George W. Bush
Franklin Roosevelt
Bill Clinton

The 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman delivered, the longest address -- a whopping 25,000 words. Safe to say that his middle initial didn't stand for "Short."

3. Oops! Which saxophone-playing president began to deliver an old speech thanks to a faulty teleprompter?

George W. Bush
Ronald Reagan
Bill Clinton
Jimmy Carter

Bill Clinton was the unlucky president stuck with a faulty teleprompter. After Clinton realized it was an old speech being displayed, he ad-libbed until his trusty aides fixed the problem. A teleprompter is a machine that shows a speaker a line-by-line reproduction of a script, unseen by the audience. C'mon, did you think they memorized these things?

4. In what year was the first State of the Union address broadcast on TV?

That honor again belongs to Harry S. Truman, who delivered the first televised State of the Union address in 1947.

5. Where does the State of the Union take place?
The White House
House of Representatives
The Capitol steps
The Washington Monument

The president delivers his speech in the chamber of the House of Representatives before a joint session of both houses of Congress.

6. Which president entered the Internet age and was the first to offer a live webcast of his speech?

Ronald Reagan
George W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George Bush

In 2002, George W. Bush was the first president to broadcast his State of the Union address live on the Web from whitehouse.gov.

7. What national tragedy postponed the address for the first time?

Space shuttle Challenger explosion
Sept. 11 attacks
Space shuttle Columbia explosion
Pearl Harbor attack

In 1986, the address was postponed following the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Ronald Reagan had intended to say that schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe being launched into space was a metaphor for America's bright future.

8. How often does the president need to deliver his address?

Once a year
Once during his presidency
From time to time

According to Article II, Sec.3 of the U.S. Constitution, "The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." That's what legal experts call elastic language.

9. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt talked about four freedoms in his address. The first three were freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want. What was the fourth freedom?

Freedom to vote
Freedom of the press
Freedom from fear
Freedom from unhappiness

The fourth is freedom from fear. . . anywhere in the world." --Franklin Roosevelt

10. How many president’s never delivered a single State of the Union address?
Every president has delivered a speech
Sadly, two presidents did not live long enough to deliver their State of the Union address -- William Henry Harrison and James Garfield. Harrison died in 1841, only 32 days after his inauguration. Garfield was assassinated in 1881 after serving only 199 days of his presidency.