9. Harry Truman - January 6, 1947
Harry Truman's 1947 address is most notable for being the first State of the Union to be televised. Truman began the address with some light words: “It looks like a good many of you have moved over to the left since I was here last.” Truman, a Democrat, was referring to the Republicans' 55 seat gain in the 1946 election (from his vantage point, Republicans were sitting on the left side of the House chamber).
The United States had just come through World War II, and Truman called partisan differences about the war immaterial but pivoted to note, “On some domestic issues we may, and probably shall, disagree.” But there was a big difference between then and now: As Truman noted then, “We have virtually full employment.” He then launched into a different problem facing the nation’s economy – inflation. He talked at length about growth in the market, labor, housing and balancing the budget. Truman digressed near the end of his speech into a few small notes on international issues and then concluded with a lengthy discussion of the military. But then – as President Obama’s administration has begun to suggest recently – Truman advocated for a reduction in the size of the military.