President Barack Obama addressed the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 10. According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times Obama was the fourth president to address a joint session of the Illinois legislature.
While a number of sitting American presidents have visited Springfield and the Illinois State Capitol Building, only four have given addresses to joint sessions of the legislature.
The last president to speak in front of the General Assembly was Jimmy Carter in May of 1978. Herbert Hoover spoke in June of 1931, and William Howard Taft addressed Illinois legislators in February of 1911.
Among the presidents who visited the Capitol, but who did not address the legislature was Martin Van Buren, who took a tour of the building on a day in June of 1842 that the legislature was not in session. Ronald Reagan spoke at a political rally just days before the presidential election of 1984. George H.W. Bush also spoke in the Capitol rotunda while he was in office.
Several presidents have also visited Springfield, but not made it to the Capitol building. In 1903, Teddy Roosevelt spoke in front of the Lincoln Home after dedicating Millikin University in Decatur during a cross-country tour. George W. Bush visited Springfield in April of 2005 to dedicate one of Springfield’s top tourist destinations, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.