I encourage you to visit the link and take a look -- it's interactive, so you can see which presidents spoke on which terms more often, or look at the popularity of these terms over time.
Some of the highlights I found most interesting:
- The word "Americans" looks like it was first used in a State of the Union by Thomas Jefferson, but it was rarely used by any president until FDR. Since then, and especially since Lyndon Johnson, it's been used often.
- "Budget" wasn't really used until Woodrow Wilson, who oversaw the institution of the Federal Reserve and income tax. Since then, it's been increasingly discussed. Looks like the talks must have been how to increase the budget. And for some reason "budget" has become less discussed by recent presidents, so probably we've fixed the problem. (The image comes from the above "The Atlantic" article overlaid by the Federal debt since 1940.)
- Reagan used the words "God" and "freedom" more than any other president. He also presided over the start of our ballooning national debt.
- And perhaps most telling of all ... the word "Constitution" was used often in the early years of our nation. James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson -- presidents before and after Lincoln -- used the term far more than any others in their States of the Union. Lincoln used it hardly at all compared to other presidents before his time. And no wonder, since his whole presidency faced questionable decisions under the Constitution. After Andrew Johnson, its use almost immediately dwindled. It looks like George H. W. Bush was the first not to mention it at all. But that's ok -- it's just a piece of paper.
So did you check out "The Atlantic" article and play with the words? What did you find most interesting or telling?