How much has changed since 1790?

On January 8th, 1970 the First Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union was delivered by George Washington. On January 28th, 2014 an Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union was delivered by Barack obama. Obviously, these two addresses are expected to be very different. However, in order to compare and contrast the speeches, we must first compare and contrast the speakers themselves.

So what makes “The Father of our Country” and “No Drama Obama” so different? Well to start off, George washington was the first president ever. So, evidently his State of the Union Address is going to be quite unique. Secondly, Barack Obama is a Democrat and George Washington didn’t even believe in parties at all. Some may think that these two speeches cannot even be compared due to the different circumstances. However, it is not impossible. Even though these two presidents are in two completely different positions, some of their ideas and wants for this country are quite similar, just as they have some very different opinions as well.

Obama and Washington share a very similar view on education. In his first message to congress, George Washington mentions education, saying “… there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” President Barack Obama would agree with this statement as he too promotes education. George Washington was known for promoting education for the youth as they will soon be the leaders of our country. Obama has a very similar belief for he strongly specified in his 2014 State of the Union Address that he wanted better education for children, especially in preschool; the foundation of their education.

One difference in their addresses could be their views on war and violence. This could be credited to the fact that the two presidents were in very different situations. Since America had just recently become its own country, George Washington had a lot of “setting up” to do, if you will. Also, George Washington was a war General so it would be expected that his war views are different from Obama’s. In his 1790 address, George Washington says “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” However, in the most recent address, Obama talks of removing troops and the end of the war. Additionally, Washington mentions that free people ought to be armed. As opposed to today, where we are dealing with gun violence. It is hard to compare certain topics since so many things have changed since 1790. But, it is still interesting to look at just how different things were.

Of course, there were also many things in the addresses that could not have been  discussed in both. For example, Indian relations were no longer relevant in this year’s State of the Union Address. Just as climate change was not even a worry in 1790. These two speeches are hard to compare, but it was definitely not impossible.

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