Katie Couric's Notebook: Speaking To History

Hi, everyone, from Washington, for tonight's State of the Union address, a speech steeped in history.

The Constitution says that the president--quote--"shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend...measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

The idea came from the tradition of British kings addressing Parliament.

Washington and Adams gave their speeches before Congress, but Jefferson thought the ceremony too much like England's. For the next hundred and twelve years, the State of the Union was given in writing, until Woodrow Wilson chose to deliver it again in a speech.

Which brings us to an interesting tradition: with the most powerful people in America gathered in that chamber, one person is always missing: a cabinet member, who can assume the presidency in case of emergency.

That way, the state of the union can remain solid and intact -- as it has for generations.

That's a page from my notebook.