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Woodrow Wilson revived the tradition of the oral State of the Union address

Many presidents gave speeches that went over 20,000 words

January 29, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Then: "I turn to matters of domestic concern," he said. "You already have under consideration a bill for the reform of our system of banking and currency, for which the country waits with impatience, as for something fundamental to its whole business life and necessary to set credit free from arbitrary and artificial restraints."

He called for the Bureau of Mines to improve "the conditions of mine labor and making the mines more economically productive as well as more safe" and an "effective employers' liability act" for the nation's railroad workers.

He spoke for 28 minutes, concluding his remarks at 1:36 p.m.

"Applause punctuated important utterances, and when he finished, there was an enthusiastic demonstration, with hand-clapping and cheers," wrote a Sun reporter.

One group that wasn't particularly happy with the speech was the National Woman Suffrage Association.

"We feel that President Wilson has fallen short of the greatest opportunity which has come to him or will ever come to him," said Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, the organization's president.

"President Wilson had the opportunity of speaking a word which might ultimately lead to the enfranchisement of a large part of the human family," she said.

"I like the idea of the President coming before Congress," said Rep. James R. Mann, the Republican House leader, "and reading a short message, pithy and to the point."

Wilson submitted written State of the Union addresses in 1919 and 1920 because of ill health.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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