Associated Press

On Tuesday night, Senators, Representatives, members of the Supreme Court, the "diplomatic corps," Cabinet secretaries and special guests will gather to listen as President Barack Obama gives his final State of the Union speech. The annual State of the Union address has its roots in American history and the U.S. Constitution, which states that the president shall, from time to time, give Congress information on the state of the union and recommend their consideration of measures the president judges necessary. Here's a look at some trivia and fun facts surrounding the annual speech.

Spoken vs. written
Associated Press

According to, President George Washington gave the first presidential report on January 8, 1790, addressing Congress at the Senate Chamber of Federal Hall in New York City.

President John Adams also gave his annual message in person, but President Thomas Jefferson, the third president, broke that brief tradition and began his own, sending a written message to Congress instead.

A 2006 Senate report said Jefferson had his private secretary deliver copies of his messages to both houses of Congress, to be read by clerks in the House and Senate.

"Jefferson's change was intended to simplify a ceremony that he believed to be an aristocratic imitation of the British monarch's Speech from the Throne, and thus unsuitable to a republic," the report said.

Delivered to Congress
Associated Press

Jefferson's tradition of sending a written report to Congress was broken on April 8, 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of delivering the speech in person. The format used by Wilson has largely been followed since that time.

A 2006 Senate report said Wilson expanded the scope of the speech, transforming it from a report on the activities of the executive department into a blueprint for the president's legislative hopes and goals for the coming year.

This year, President Barack Obama is likely to use his address to call for more spending on manufacturing and infrastructure, the Associated Press reported.

>> President Woodrow Wilson delivers a declaration of war to the joint session of Congress, in Washington, April 2, 1917.

On the radio
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President Calvin Coolidge, nicknamed "Silent Cal", once told political consultant Bernard Baruch that he often sat through interviews silently because, "Many times I say only 'yes' or 'no' to people. Even that is too much. It winds them up for twenty minutes more.

In 1923, however, "Silent Cal" became the first president to have his State of the Union address broadcast by radio.

President Harry Truman's 1947 speech was the first broadcast on television, while President George W. Bush's 2002 address was the first livecast from the House website.

This year, the White House will launch an online tool called "Citizen Response," which allows listeners to highlight a passage from the address and share it with their friends. The president will also join a series of Google+ "Fireside Hangouts" to answer questions about his speech.

>> U.S. President Calvin Coolidge mets with Mr. Herbert Hoover and other cabinet members September 12, 1928 at Union Station in Washington, D.C.

No State of the Union
Associated Press

From Washington to Obama, only two U.S. presidents did not give some form of a State of the Union address. Both men — William Henry Harrison and James Garfield — died in office before they were able to give their reports.

Harrison had been president for less than a month before he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia, the White House website states. He died on April 4, 1841, making him the first president to not give a State of the Union address, as well as the first president to die in office.

On July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot by an attorney who had sought a consular post at the White House, according to the website. He lay wounded for weeks, but died on September 19, 1881 from an infection and internal hemorrhage. Garfield was the second president to not give an address, and the second to be assassinated.

>> William Henry Harrison, is shown in this undated portrait, served the shortest presidential term in American history. Harrison was in office only 31 days before he died of pneumonia April 4, 1841.

Longest speech: Written
Associated Press

Accounts on the longest State of the Union speech differ, with a 2006 Senate report suggesting that President Harry Truman's 1946 message could be the longest at more than 25,000 words, while Washington's first address was likely the shortest at 833 words., a George Washington University project, agreed that Washington's speech was the shortest (but put it at 1,089 words) while instead suggesting that President William Howard Taft's 1910 report was the longest at 27,651 words.

Robert Schlesinger of USNews agreed on the Washington point (and the 1,089 words) but gave the longest honors to President Jimmy Carter, whose 1981 written document was 33,667 words long.

>> President Truman delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 8, 1951.

Longest speech: Spoken
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President Bill Clinton bears the distinction of giving the longest orally delivered speech, Robert Schlesinger wrote at US News, with Clinton's January 2000 address lasting 1 hour, 28 minutes and 49 seconds. The speech was 7,452 words long.

Clinton's first address to the nation in 1993 included enough last-minute additions and ad-libs to almost double the speech's word count, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The speech started with a 3,800-word script that grew to 6,600 words by the end of it. After the speech, Clinton called to thank Air Force Staff Sgt. Rodney Kipling, who was responsible for rolling the text of the prepared speech on the TelePrompTer.

>> President Clinton acknowledges the crowd prior to giving his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1999. House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois is at right.

Assigned seating
Associated Press

There are no assigned seats for House and Senate members at the State of the Union, but usually the House members fill the middle of the House chamber while Senators sit on the sides, The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe said.

Members will generally sit by political party, although occasionally some will choose to sit by members of the opposing party. The 2011 State of the Union was filled with cross-party dating drama after members scrambled to find an across-the-aisle seating partner in honor of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

>> President Barack Obama speaks at the State of the Union on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011.

Coveted seating
Associated Press

While there aren't assigned seats at the State of the Union, there is competition for the best seats.

The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold wrote about "State of the Union squatters," or lawmakers who will wait for seven hours or more just to get a seat on the aisle the president will walk down at the speech.

"The payoff for all of that lasts about five seconds. But oh, those are five good seconds. There's you, on national TV. And the leader of the free world seems to be laughing at your shared, private joke," Fahrenthold wrote. "For the people on the aisle, the State of the Union is a rare night when a low-ranking legislator can score both a TV appearance and a personal audience with the president."

>> President Barack Obama is greeted on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, prior to delivering his State of the Union speech.

The 'Lenny Skutnik'
Associated Press

Beginning with President Ronald Reagan and Lenny Skutnik in 1982, presidents have been inviting and acknowledging special guests sitting in the gallery.

In 1982, Skutnik, a federal employee, was on his way home from work when Air Florida Flight 90 clipped the 14th Street Bridge on takeoff and went into the Potomac River. Skutnik swam out into the river to rescue a drowning stranger, and two weeks later was seated next to Nancy Reagan and being singled out for his courage by the President of the United States.

Reagan said Skutnik's actions were an example of "the spirit of American heroism at its finest."

This year, the first lady's box will include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Bobak Ferdowski (aka "Mowhawk Guy") from NASA's Mars rover team, 16-year-old Intel International Science and Engineering Fair winner Jack Andraka, a wounded warrior, a New York nurse, a small business owner, an undocumented student and more.

>> Lennie Skutnik receives applause from first lady Nancy Reagan and his wife at night on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1982 at House chamber of Capitol Hall in Washington.

Designated survivor
Associated Press

The Capitol Building will play host to Washington's most powerful figures during a State of the Union address, but at least one cabinet member will be absent — the designated survivor.

By tradition, one Cabinet secretary is chosen to the "designated survivor" and is required to skip the president's speech in case of a catastrophe that wipes out the president, vice president, Supreme Court justices and other Cabinet secretaries, as well as members of Congress.

In 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack skipped the speech, while Interior Secreatry Ken Salazar missed it the year before, PBS reported. Those chosen are "told to be discreet."

A 2006 Senate document said that a post-Sept. 11th development, beginning in 2003, also kept two members of each house of Congress, representing both parties, away from the Capitol.

>> Cabinet members applaud President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.