For tonight’s State of the Union Address USA Today’s David Jackson offers a sensible list of past efforts which “proposed ideas that continue to influence American life.” In most cases, their significance wasn’t clear until much later.
Join us in comments on Trail Mix tonight to see if we can figure out whether President Obama’s SOTU will make a difference.
The Monroe Doctrine (Dec. 2, 1823)
In a written message to Congress, President James Madison warns Europe to stay out of the political affairs of the Western Hemisphere.
Quote: “We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those (European) powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.”
Gold in California (Dec. 5, 1848)
President James Polk helps trigger the California gold rush – “the ’49ers” – by broadcasting the valuable discovery in a written message to Congress.
Quote: “It was known that mines of the precious metals existed to a considerable extent in California at the time of its acquisition. Recent discoveries render it probable that these mines are more extensive and valuable than was anticipated.”
The Civil War (Dec. 1, 1862)
President Abraham Lincoln, in a written message, eloquently outlines the stakes of the then-raging Civil War.
Quote: “Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation … In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.”
The Four Freedoms (Jan. 6, 1941)
Just 11 months before Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tells Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan that the United States will stand up for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
Quote: “In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.”
The War on Poverty (Jan. 8, 1964)
President Lyndon Johnson previews a raft of social legislation to be known as the Great Society.
Quote: “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”
Axis of Evil (Jan. 29, 2002)
A year before the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush sends an unmistakable warning to Saddam Hussein, as well as the leaders of Iran and North Korea.
Quote: “States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”
— David Jackson, USA Today