Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joe Cannon: A Few More Images

A few days ago, I mentioned Joseph G. Cannon, Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1903 to 1911), namesake of today's Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., who served fifty years in Congress (a record back then) and was the only Speaker ever to be stripped of powers in a public revolt on the House floor. For me, part of the appeal of Cannon's story is that so much of it was captured in images: newspaper cartoons, photographs, campaign posters, and the rest. I thought you might enjoy seeing a few:

First, on the good side, when Cannon finally left Congress in 1923 as 87 year-old elder statesman, Time Magazine put his face on the cover of its first-ever edition.

Here is Joe in his prime as autocratic House Speaker, around 1908. Cannon had a face that cartoonists loved: long, angular, big nose, big ears, white beard, and always the cigar in his teeth. He was tall, lanky, and twitchy, a whirl of motion who swung his awms when he spoke. Cannon was a penny-pinching conservative ("not one cent for scenery") who believed in "standing pat" -- his words -- and used his power to block tariff reforms, labor laws, railroad regulation, and the whole Progressive agenda.

How powerful was he? In this front-page Washington Star cartoon by Clifford Berryman, Uncle Joe delights in presiding over a House consising of 390 little clones of himself.

The 1910 revolt to strip Cannon of his powers was a hugh public defeat and embarrassment. Here he is after the fight

Finally, here is what Joe Cannon actually looked like in 1910. Cannon loved photos like this, with the trademark cigar, the big top havd, and a grin, his eyes betraying no douht about who''s the smarted pertson in the room.


Anonymous said...

I teach in the school district where Cannon once lived and represented Illinois. There is a lot of history here along with Lincoln history. Earlier this summer, Danville had a group of sign painters called the Walldogs come and paint the great moments in Danville history on some brick buildings. Cannon on the cover of Time was one of them. Some Cannon artifacts exist in the Vermilion County Museum, an old home where Lincoln stayed and spoke on the balcony, another Walldog artistic rendition.

Ken Ackerman said...

Hi Anonymous-- I actually was in Danville that day last summer when the Walldogs came to paint, en route home from Springfield where I'd just spent three days going through the Cannon papers att the Lincoln Library. It's a fantastic collection, ten boxes of private letters, all loaded with personality. I think the story of the "insurgent" uprising against Cannon in 1910 would make a nice small book. It has all the dramatic elements, and Cannon and Norris both are wonderfully edgy characters.