State of the Union 2016

President Obama standing behind a podium at a Joint Session of Congress

President Obama address a Joint Session of Congress and the American people in his State of the Union address.

President Obama with Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan behind him.

President Obama with Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan behind him.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden

First Lady Michelle Obama and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden

President Obama delivering his address.

President Obama delivering his address.

The President shares a laugh with those in attendance.

The President shares a laugh with those in attendance.

President Obama and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

President Obama and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

President Obama delivers his last State of the Union.

President Obama, in his last year in office, delivered his final State of the Union message on January 12, 2016. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan invited the President to the U.S. Capitol for the speech to a joint session of Congress.

Members of the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, along with hundreds of distinguished guests attended the nationally televised address in the House chamber.

Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution requires the president to “give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires the President to report to the American people: "He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union."

George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address on January 8, 1790. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson, Presidents sent a written report until Woodrow Wilson revived the custom of giving a speech in 1913. Since Franklin Roosevelt, the speech is typically given in January.

Learn about the evolution of the State of the Union Address and get a historic view of the 158-year-old House Chamber by checking out the Historian's website.