Jefferson’s happy settlement lasted for just over a century, until, in the heady progressive climate of 1913, Woodrow Wilson brought the damn thing back. Given Wilson’s attitude toward limited government, toward the Constitution, and toward the American settlement, that it was he who did this should raise alarm bells even in the ears of the speech’s defenders. With the admirable openness that marked his unadmirable hostility to America’s founding ideals, Wilson announced that he would restore the speech because it was fitting for a strong and king-like president with an agenda — in other words, he directly reversed Jefferson’s logic. A brief respite followed the Wilson administration: After delivering his first in person, Calvin Coolidge agreed with Wilson’s characterization of the event, and, wishing to be anything but a king-like president, re-abolished the practice, delivering the remainder of his reports in writing and setting an example that was followed by his successor, Herbert Hoover. But it wasn’t to last. FDR had higher pretensions and brought the speech back. With a few exceptions (none based on principle), it has stayed with us ever since.
One more reason that Wilson was such an awful president, and Coolidge is
ovunderrated. The SOTA is nothing but an opportunity for political grandstanding.