Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 1.djvu/260

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Chapter 9: The Annual Message

President Washington began his administration by addressing Congress in a speech, which Congress answered; and the precedent established by him in 1790 was followed by his successor. The custom was regarded by the opposition as an English habit, tending to familiarize the public with monarchical ideas, and Jefferson gave early warning that he should address Congress in a message, which would require no answer. In after times the difference between oral and written communications as signs of monarchy or republicanism became less self-evident; but the habit of writing to Congress was convenient, especially to Presidents who disliked public speaking, and Jefferson's practice remained the rule. The Federalists naturally regarded the change as a reproof, and never admitted its advantages. The Republicans also missed some of the conveniences of the old system. John Randolph, eight years afterward, seemed to regret that the speech had been abandoned:[1]

"The answer to an Address, although that answer might finally contain the most exceptionable passages,
  1. Annals of Congress, May 26, 1809, XI. Congress, Part I. p. 92.