The Nation: Uncle Joe Cannon: Iron Duke of Congress

"I am goddamned tired of listening to all this babble for reform. America is a hell of a success."

—Joseph G. Cannon

NOTHING annoyed "Uncle Joe" Cannon more than the idea of change, and during the eight years he ruled Congress as Speaker of the House, most calls for reform were icily snubbed. From 1903 to 1911, Congress under Cannon was at the height of its power, intimidating—and thwarting—even so aggressive a President as Theodore Roosevelt. Snorted Cannon at one piece of forest legislation: "Not one cent for scenery." Wrote a contemporary scholar: "There is some room for saying Cannon is even...

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