United States’ Presidential Communication Has Changed Drastically – From Telegrams To Twitter
ell, wouldn’t it be a shame to be running a 1st world country and not communicate with the public, especially the voters? Clearly, all presidents of the United States knew the importance of connecting with the public, letting them know what’s happening, and, most importantly, promote their political agenda. The United States has welcomed 45 presidents since it’s independence on the 4th of July 1776, with the first being George Washington, who was the POTUS from 1789 to 1797.
The then 57-year-old president knew that people were vigilant for any signs of despotism since America had just freed itself from a British monarch. To win people’s trust, George Washington refrained from providing suggestions or offering any ideas to the Congress, but that soon changed. During his first State of the Union Address, he praised Congress and suggested that America have its own currency, a post office, a system of weights and measures, and even talked about national debt and immigration. Not only did Washington speak with Congress, but also with the public as his speech was soon published in local newspapers.
Then came Abraham Lincoln, who served as the 16th president of the USA from 1861 to 1865. Lincoln was a gifted debater and wouldn’t mind debating for hours at a stretch. During his tenure, communication with the public was through debates and Lincoln was a master. All his debates were published in local newspapers and acted as a channel to influence public opinion. Lincoln was also the first president who installed a dedicated telegraph office next to the White House during the Civil War.
Fast forward to the 25th president of the USA, William McKinley, whose term began on the 4th March 1897 until his assassination in 1901. McKinley was the first president who capitalized on the modern medium of moving pictures and had his entire inauguration filmed for the public to see.
Then we meet Theodore Roosevelt, or as popularly known as Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States. Roosevelt was known as the master of slogans for he had a knack for coming up with catchy slogans and fancy quips that quickly became viral among the public. Local newspapers were in for a surprise as the exuberant Roosevelt left no stone unturned when it came to providing interesting facts for the public to devour, all packed in punchy language.
Then came the era of radio addresses, and while Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, wasn’t the first president to give live radio addresses, he certainly was the first to make sure that his radio addresses engaged and resonated with the people of America. While Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, was the first president to deliver a televised address, it was John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the USA, who won the White House after effectively using the medium of TV. Kennedy’s turning point was, no doubt, his debates with Richard M. Nixon, who went on to become the 37th president of the USA.
Then came the era of emails under the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton. Clinton even had his own AOL email account which he seldom used. So much so that the Clinton Presidential Library claims to have only two emails personally sent by Clinton and of the two, one was a test email.
Fast forward to Barack Obama, the 44th president of the US, and his medium to communicate with the public was through Twitter, a social media platform launched in 2006. However, it was only in 2015 that Obama opened his own account as the president of the United States, but never composed or tweeted anything himself.
So while Barack Obama was the first president to have tasted the power of social media, it is, undoubtedly, the 45th president of the USA, Donald Trump to effectively leverage the power of Twitter. President Trump tweets from his personal account and from 2009 to 2020, he has personally sent over 47,000 tweets and counting!
How do you think communication will change in the future? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends!