Historical Highlights

Speaker of the House Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois

May 07, 1836
Speaker of the House Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
The namesake of the Cannon House Office Building, Joseph Cannon of Illinois, served 46 years–making him the institutions seventh longest-serving Member.
On this date, Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois was born in Guilford, North Carolina. “Uncle Joe” Cannon’s career in Congress spanned almost five decades. During that time, Cannon served as chairman of three committees: Expenditures in the Post Office Department, Rules, and Appropriations. From the 58th Congress through the 61st Congress (1903–1911), he simultaneously chaired the Rules Committee and served as Speaker of the House. As chair of the Rules Committee, Cannon managed the floor schedule for legislation and, as Speaker, he controlled the debate on the floor. During Cannon’s reign, he usurped power from the committee chairs and ruled the Congress with an iron fist, earning him the nickname “Czar Cannon.” He once said, “Sometimes in politics one must duel with skunks, but no one should be fool enough to allow skunks to choose the weapons.”

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