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Since 1787, the peaceful transfer of power has been a vital pillar of American democracy. With still no concession speech from President Trump, experts worry this will delay the traditional peaceful transition. A look at the historical importance of the transition of power and why it is so important for the incoming administration.

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Families can seek ongoing inspiration from the words and work of clergyman and civil rights leader, Dr. King, through a visit to this monument in West Potomac Park. The memorial, located adjacent to the National Mall near the FDR Memorial and framing views of the Tidal Basin, features quotes extracted from the leader's eloquent speeches emphasizing four of King's primary messages: justice, democracy, hope and love. Site tours and Junior Ranger badge activities are available and can help extend the experience for children.

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A. Speeches averaged about 10,000 words during the 19th century and about half that in the late 20th century. At 1,089 words, Washington’s 1790 speech was the shortest. His speech was delivered in New York, and at the time was called an “Annual Message.” Jimmy Carter delivered the longest written address (accompanying his speech) – 33,667 words in 1981 – followed by Taft — 27,651 words in 1910. From 1966 to the present, Bill Clinton’s 2000 oral address took the longest to deliver, at nearly one hour and 29 minutes.

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A. In 1823, President Monroe introduced the “Monroe Doctrine” in his State of the Union, asserting American intolerance of further European interference in the Western Hemisphere. “It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense,” he said in his speech. James K. Polk’s 1848 address confirmed news “of the abundance of gold” in California. And Johnson introduced the War on Poverty in 1964, stating that the then-current Congress should become known as the one “which declared all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

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A. Washington and John Adams delivered speeches, but Jefferson opted to submit a written message to Congress, a practice that continued until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson spoke before Congress, and continued to do so annually for the next five years. In 1919 and 1920, Wilson, for health reasons, did not address Congress. His successors, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, spoke to Congress for the next three years, but Coolidge and Herbert Hoover went back to written messages for the next nine years, setting the stage for FDR.

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Since 1790, when George Washington gave a brief speech to Congress on the condition of the country, presidents have issued an annual State of the Union message.

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