10 Longest State of the Union Addresses Ever Given

A United States president delivers the State of the Union address to both chambers of the US Congress at the onset of each calendar year they spend in office. These speeches can go into details regarding current economic affairs, any current changes in legislation, and the federal budget. Depending on the current state of the United States’ politics, these addresses can go on for some time!

So, just how long can the longest State of the Union addresses get? Today we’ll be looking at 10 of the longest addresses and ranking them according to how many words long they were. We’ll also learn a little bit about the context of each one!

  1. William McKinley (1899)

Number of Words: 22,831
Opening Topic: Mourning VP Hobart
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 18,578 wordsBay and San Pablo Bay

William_McKinley_1899  Source: wikimedia.org

President William McKinley began this State of the Union address by honoring the passing of his Vice President, Garret Hobart, speaking highly of his career and character. The address also stated that the past year’s manufactured product revenue exceeded that of all previous years, and touched upon agricultural revenue as well. The year before this address was notable for US conflicts with Cuban insurrectionists, and McKinley was reelected for a second term afterwards in 1900.

Did you know? 

William McKinley was assassinated just six months into his second term as President.

  1. Theodore Roosevelt (1906)

Number of Words: 23,609
Opening Topic: Prosperity and Congress
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 19,656 words

Theodore_Roosevelt_1906  Source: wikimedia.org

This State of the Union address goes over everything from the gravity of racist and classist crimes to a judge’s moral obligation to go against public opinion and criticism in the name of justice. President Roosevelt also expressed strong views on the grave topic of sexual assault, stating that it should be punishable by death. He did not address the 59th US Congress directly, instead writing it out and paying high respects to the Army and the Navy for their responses to unrest in Cuba.

Did you know? 

Theodore Roosevelt began his political career with a seat on the New York State Assembly.

  1. William Howard Taft (1911)

Number of Words: 23,744
Opening Topic: Anti-trust law
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 22,614 words

William_Howard_Taft_1911  Source: wikimedia.org

This lengthy State of the Union address included topics such as anti-trust legislation and its lack of clarity which would make violation difficult to effectively avoid. In addition to several similar business-related subjects, this address also brought up issues such as arbitration between other countries. Colombia and Costa Rica, in particular, had been undergoing boundary struggles and were in need of help.

Did you know? 

Theodore Roosevelt chose William Taft to continue his Republican progressive agenda, but Taft wound up alienating many people with progressive views.

  1. Theodore Roosevelt (1905)

Number of Words: 25,071
Opening Topic: Prosperity and agricultural wealth
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 19,656 words

Theodore_Roosevelt_1905  Source: wikimedia.org

Here, Teddy Roosevelt called attention to the United States’ prosperity and described how people must work together for the benefit of society in order to maximize their blessings in terms of industry. He also recommends that Congress rid itself of all unnecessary offices in order to minimize spending and streamline its processes. Alongside his urges to cut the middlemen out of Congress, Roosevelt also critiqued the rigidity of the current economy and expressed hopes that it would become more adaptable to the people.

Did you know? 

Roosevelt first ventured out to the Dakota Territory in 1883 and became enchanted by the cowboy life while hunting bison.

  1. William Howard Taft (1912)

Number of Words: 25,161
Opening Topic: Foreign relations
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 22,614 words

William_Howard_Taft_1912  Source: wikimedia.org

William Taft wrote in favor of international cooperation when he delivered his 1912 State of the Union address, referring to a “family of nations” that the United States needed to work with. He gave updates on economic and military affairs, stating that the US Army consisted of “83,809 men, excluding the 5,000 Philippine scouts.” He also said that the Department of State was modernized under his supervision and laid out some of the details.

Did you know? 

Taft advocated Dollar Diplomacy, believing that an investment in the stability of Latin America would benefit the USA as well.

  1. Richard Nixon (1973)

Number of Words: 27,147
Opening Topic: Fresh approach to government affairs and programs
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 4,521 words

Richard_Nixon_1973  Source: wikimedia.org

This unusually long State of the Union was the only one of Richard Nixon’s addresses that was written instead of spoken. Within it, he gave words of encouragement to the American people, stating that they continued to work towards prosperity without “surrendering to despair” throughout a difficult time in United States history. He also put forth several regulations meant to improve the economy by managing inflation and taxes.

Did you know? 

Richard Nixon, who faced a near-guaranteed impeachment following the Watergate Scandal, became the first United States president to resign.

  1. Theodore Roosevelt (1907)

Number of Words: 27,397
Opening Topic: Resources and industry
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 19,656 words

Theodore_Roosevelt_1907  Source: wikimedia.org

Teddy Roosevelt was a unique president in that he served an unprecedented four terms in the presidential office! As a result, he gave a high number of State of the Union addresses, including this one which overlaps in many places with his address from 1905. In fact, he directly quotes his previous address in several spots, namely, those to do with industry and cooperation between the people of America.

Did you know? 

Roosevelt is also largely remembered for his “New Deal,” which was a series of programs and changes implemented during the Great Depression.

  1. Harry Truman (1946)

Number of Words: 27,465
Opening Topic: Executive budgeting
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 4,836 words

Harry_Truman_1946  Source: wikimedia.org

Right as the preshocks of the Cold War were beginning, Harry Truman gave this State of the Union address stating that he hoped for the current world powers to cooperate and put an end to civil strife. Nevertheless, he also said that industrial America would need to contribute resources to the war efforts if called upon. Truman also pointed out that the Social Security system, which had just celebrated its tenth anniversary, had already helped many citizens but still needed a lot of improvement.

Did you know? 

Harry Truman is known for renouncing isolationism and strongly advocating alliances with other countries around the globe.

  1. William Howard Taft (1910)

Number of Words: 27,651
Opening Topic: USA foreign relations
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 22,614 words

William_Howard_Taft_1910  Source: wikimedia.org

This State of the Union address opens with the announcement that the Fisheries dispute between the United States and Great Britain was finally resolved. An agreement was reached on precisely where the fishery borders fell, thanks to the efforts of the International Fisheries Commission. Taft’s 1910 address also went into details concerning new tariff legislation and the importance of establishing American banks throughout the world.

Did you know? 

Juan Estrada’s rebel forces took the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, in 1910 and Taft elected for the United States to give Nicaragua a loan to put towards their resistance efforts.

  1. Jimmy Carter (1981)

Number of Words: 33,667
Opening Topic: Economic recovery
Delivery: Written
President’s Address Average: 3,750 words

Jimmy_Carter_1981  Source: wikimedia.org

Jimmy Carter’s 1981 State of the Union address was the longest in United States history. It began by acknowledging the United States’ recovery from the recent recession and the progress that the nation had made as a whole. However, Carter was also quick to address the areas that needed improvement or attention, such as rising inflation and difficulties in the global oil market. He also broke down the current United States unemployment rates and went into detail regarding international relations via trade.

Did you know? 

When Jimmy Carter began running for president, no one thought he had much of a chance since his name recognition was only 2%!

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