Presidential Communication: A Brief History

Since George Washington was inaugurated in 1789, the way our Presidents have communicated with the citizenry has changed dramatically. As a surveyor in western Virginia, member of the House of Burgesses and Continental Congress, Commander of the Continental Army, President of the Constitutional Convention and later, first President of the United States, Washington was an expert traveler. But even he averaged only about 5 miles per hour by horse. This, of course, did not account for the official greetings, state dinners, military honors and general fanfare that accompanied him wherever he went, particularly in his later years. Even so, only a small percentage of adoring Americans ever had the honor of hearing his voice.

This trend continued for all of our Presidents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Few Americans would ever have the opportunity to hear their Presidents speak directly to them. Candidates and Presidents alike were limited to…



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