State of the Union opening lines

Below are the first lines from each president's first State of the Union address. Cleveland gets in there twice, as he always does.

 

George Washington

January 8, 1790

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs.

John Adams

November 22, 1797

Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

I was for some time apprehensive that it would be necessary, on account of the contagious sickness which afflicted the city of Philadelphia, to convene the National Legislature at some other place.

Thomas Jefferson

December 8, 1801

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

It is a circumstance of sincere gratification to me that on meeting the great council of our nation I am able to announce to them on grounds of reasonable certainty that the wars and troubles which have for so many years afflicted our sister nations have at length come to an end, and that the communications of peace and commerce are once more opening among them.

James Madison

November 29, 1809

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

At the period of our last meeting I had the satisfaction of communicating an adjustment with one of the principal belligerent nations, highly important in itself, and still more so as presaging a more extended accommodation.

James Monroe

December 12, 1817

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

At no period of our political existence had we so much cause to felicitate ourselves at the prosperous and happy condition of our country.

John Quincy Adams

December 6, 1825

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

In taking a general survey of the concerns of our beloved country, with reference to subjects interesting to the common welfare, the first sentiment which impresses itself upon the mind is of gratitude to the Omnipotent Disposer of All Good for the continuance of the signal blessings of His providence, and especially for that health which to an unusual extent has prevailed within our borders, and for that abundance which in the vicissitudes of the seasons has been scattered with profusion over our land.

Andrew Jackson

December 8, 1829

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

It affords me pleasure to tender my friendly greetings to you on the occasion of your assembling at the seat of Government to enter upon the important duties to which you have been called by the voice of our country-men.

Martin van Buren

December 5, 1837

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

We have reason to renew the expression of our devout gratitude to the Giver of All Good for His benign protection.

John Tyler

December 7, 1841

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

In coming together, fellow-citizens, to enter again upon the discharge of the duties with which the people have charged us severally, we find great occasion to rejoice in the general prosperity of the country.

James Polk

December 2, 1845

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

It is to me a source of unaffected satisfaction to meet the representatives of the States and the people in Congress assembled, as it will be to receive the aid of their combined wisdom in the administration of public affairs.

Zachary Taylor

December 4, 1849

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Sixty years have elapsed since the establishment of this Government, and the Congress of the United States again assembles to legislate for an empire of freemen.

Millard Fillmore

December 2, 1850

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

Being suddenly called in the midst of the last session of Congress by a painful dispensation of Divine Providence to the responsible station which I now hold, I contented myself with such communications to the Legislature as the exigency of the moment seemed to require.

Franklin Pierce

December 5, 1853

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

The interest with which the people of the Republic anticipate the assembling of Congress and the fulfillment on that occasion of the duty imposed upon a new President is one of the best evidences of their capacity to realize the hopes of the founders of a political system at once complex and symmetrical.

James Buchanan

December 8, 1857

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In obedience to the command of the Constitution, it has now become my duty "to give to Congress information of the state of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures" as I judge to be "necessary and expedient."

Abraham Lincoln

December 3, 1861

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

In the midst of unprecedented political troubles we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests.

Andrew Johnson

December 4, 1865

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

To express gratitude to God in the name of the people for the preservation of the United States is my first duty in addressing you.

Ulysses S. Grant

December 6, 1869

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

In coming before you for the first time as Chief Magistrate of this great nation, it is with gratitude to the Giver of All Good for the many benefits we enjoy.

Rutherford B. Hayes

December 3, 1877

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

With devout gratitude to the bountiful Giver of All Good, I congratulate you that at the beginning of your first regular session you find our country blessed with health and peace and abundant harvests, and with encouraging prospects of an early return of general prosperity.

Chester A. Arthur

December 6, 1881

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

An appalling calamity has befallen the American people since their chosen representatives last met in the halls where you are now assembled.

Grover Cleveland

December 8, 1885

To the Congress of the United States:

Your assembling is clouded by a sense of public bereavement, caused by the recent and sudden death of Thomas A. Hendricks, Vice-President of the United States. His distinguished public services, his complete integrity and devotion to every duty, and his personal virtues will find honorable record in his country's history.

Benjamin Harrison

December 3, 1889

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

There are few transactions in the administration of the Government that are even temporarily held in the confidence of those charged with the conduct of the public business.

Grover Cleveland

December 3, 1893

To the Congress of the United States:

The constitutional duty which requires the President from time to time to give to the Congress information of the state of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient is fittingly entered upon by commending to the Congress a careful examination of the detailed statements and well-supported recommendations contained in the reports of the heads of Departments, who are chiefly charged with the executive work of the Government.

William McKinley

December 6, 1897

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

It gives me pleasure to extend greeting to the Fifty-fifth Congress, assembled in regular session at the seat of Government, with many of whose Senators and Representatives I have been associated in the legislative service.

Theodore Roosevelt

December 3, 1901

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Congress assembles this year under the shadow of a great calamity.

William H. Taft

December 7, 1909

The relations of the United States with all foreign governments have continued upon the normal basis of amity and good understanding, and are very generally satisfactory.

Woodrow Wilson

December 2, 1913

Gentlemen of the Congress:

In pursuance of my constitutional duty to "give to the Congress information of the state of the Union," I take the liberty of addressing you on several matters which ought, as it seems to me, particularly to engage the attention of your honorable bodies, as of all who study the welfare and progress of the Nation.

Warren Harding

December 6, 1921

MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS:

It is a very gratifying privilege to come to the Congress with the Republic at peace with all the nations of the world.

Calvin Coolidge

December 6, 1923

Since the close of the last Congress the Nation has lost President Harding.

Herbert Hoover

December 3, 1929

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Constitution requires that the President "shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

January 3, 1934

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Senators and Representatives in Congress:

I come before you at the opening of the Regular Session of the 73d Congress, not to make requests for special or detailed items of legislation; I come, rather, to counsel with you, who, like myself, have been selected to carry out a mandate of the whole people, in order that without partisanship you and I may cooperate to continue the restoration of our national wellbeing and, equally important, to build on the ruins of the past a new structure designed better to meet the present problems of modern civilization.

Harry S. Truman

January 21, 1946

To the Congress of the United States:

A quarter century ago the Congress decided that it could no longer consider the financial programs of the various departments on a piecemeal basis.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

February 2, 1953

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Eighty-third Congress:

I welcome the honor of appearing before you to deliver my first message to the Congress. It is manifestly the joint purpose of the congressional leadership and of this administration to justify the summons to governmental responsibility issued last November by the American people. 

John F. Kennedy

January 30, 1961

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the Congress:

It is a pleasure to return from whence I came.

Lyndon B. Johnson

January 8, 1964

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the House and Senate, my fellow Americans:

I will be brief, for our time is necessarily short and our agenda is already long.

Richard Nixon

January 22, 1970

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, my colleagues in the Congress, our distinguished guests and my fellow Americans:

To address a joint session of the Congress in this great Chamber in which I was once privileged to serve is an honor for which I am deeply grateful.

Gerald R. Ford

January 15, 1975

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of the 94th Congress, and distinguished guests:

Twenty-six years ago, a freshman Congressman, a young fellow with lots of idealism who was out to change the world, stood before Sam Rayburn in the well of the House and solemnly swore to the same oath that all of you took yesterday--an unforgettable experience, and I congratulate you all.

Jimmy Carter

January 19, 1978

Two years ago today we had the first caucus in Iowa, and one year ago tomorrow, I walked from here to the White House to take up the duties of President of the United States. I didn't know it then when I walked, but I've been trying to save energy ever since

Ronald Reagan

January 26, 1982

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Congress, honored guests, and fellow citizens:

Today marks my first State of the Union address to you, a constitutional duty as old as our Republic itself.

George H.W. Bush

February 9, 1989

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, and distinguished Members of the House and Senate, honored guests, and fellow citizens: Less than 3 weeks ago, I joined you on the West Front of this very building and, looking over the monuments to our proud past, offered you my hand in filling the next page of American history with a story of extended prosperity and continued peace.

William J. Clinton

January 25, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the 103rd Congress, my fellow Americans:

I am not sure what speech is in the TelePrompTer tonight, but I hope we can talk about the State of the Union.

 

George W. Bush

September 20, 2001

To the Congress of the United States:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President pro tempore, Members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union. Tonight, no such report is needed. It has already been delivered by the American people.

 

Barack Obama

January 27, 2010

Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.