George Washington, First Annual Address to Congress (January 8, 1790)
Nor am I less persuaded that you will agree with me in opinion that there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential.
Complete Text and Source: The American Presidency Project, UC Santa Barbara
Under the terms of the Constitution, Washington delivered this message to Congress in person. It would later be called the State of the Union address.
Read more from Washington’s Mount Vernon Plantation.