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Joseph G. Cannon
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U.S. Congressman
    (May 7, 1836-November 12, 1926)
    Born in Guilford, North Carolina
    Representative from Illinois (1873-91,1893-1913,1915-23)
    Speaker of the House (1903-11)
    Nicknamed 'Uncle Joe'
    His residency in Illinois was involuntary: he was thrown off a train there when the conductor found out he did not have a ticket.
    He liked to pose as a rube, saying 'I am one of the great army of mediocrity which constitutes the majority.'
    He was known for his high-handed tactics.
    As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he put through a $50 million defense bill without consulting any other members of the Committee.
    Despite being a fellow Republican, he repeatedly clashed with Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and (to a lesser extent) William Howard Taft.
    He fought against Roosevelt's conservation policies, saying the government should spend 'not one cent for scenery.'
    His arrogance eventually prompted a revolt by a coalition of Democrats and progressive Republicans, who stripped the Speaker of the power to appoint the members of House committees, ending his iron rule over the House (1910).
    At 15, he took charge of the family farm after his father, a doctor, drowned trying to cross a creek to reach a sick patient.
    Despite his general conservatism, he did help pass some progressive reforms, such as the Food Pure and Drug Act (1906).
    He was the longest-serving Republican member of the House of Representatives.
    He said, 'Sometimes in politics one must duel with skunks, but no one should be fool enough to allow skunks to choose the weapons.'
    He was featured on the cover of the first issue of 'Time' magazine (1923).

Credit: C. Fishel

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