1st session United States. 64th Congress.

Joseph Gurney Cannon. Proceedings in the House of Representatives on the eightieth anniversary of his birth. Saturday, May 6, 1916 (Volume 2) online

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Joseph Gumey Cannon

OF HIS BIRTH <a ^ « MAY 6, 1916

H. Doc. 1092, 64-1.

House Document No. 1092 ... Sixly-Fourlh Congress, Fiist Sesiion

Joseph Gurney Cannon





Saturday. May 6, 1916




^ Cull 5

.On motion of Mr. Mann, by unanimous consent,

Ordered, That on Saturday, May 6, 1916, immediately after the reading
of the Journal and the disposition of business upon the Speaker's table,
Mr. Rodenberg be permitted to control one hour.

(Order agreed to March 16, 1916.)

In the House op Representatives,

May 8, igi6.
Ordered, That ten thousand copies of the proceedings in the House com-
memorative of the anniversary of the birth of Hon. Joseph G. Cannon
be printed, with his portrait, as a House document and distributed through
the folding room for the use of the House.

Clarence A. Cannon,

Journal Clerk.

D. Of D.
JUN 15 1916



Prayer by Rev. Henry N. Couden, D. D 7

Address op Hon. William A. Rodenberg 11

Address of Hon. Isaac R. Sherwood 17

Address of Hon. Frederick H. Gillett 21

Address op Hon. Claude Kitchin 29

Address of Hon. Champ Clark 35

Response of Hon. Joseph G. Cannon 45

Prayer by the

Rev. Henry N. Couden, D. D.

Chaplain of the House

Prayer by the Chaplain

IJT'E bless Thee, our Father in heaven, for every life that has
W poured itself out for the betterment of mankind, whether in
science, literature, art, statesmanship, or religious endeavor; for
these are the human dynamos that move the wheels of progress
toward the ideal civilization for which every true heart longs,
and for the full appreciation accorded to such men in the hearts
of their fellows. We thank Thee for the recognition of the long
and faithfid service of one who stands to-day on the threshold of
his eightieth birthday, who, for half of his life, has been a con-
spicuous figure on the floor of this House; a leader wise in his coun-
sels, a strong advocate of every ineastire for the betterment of popular
government, known throughout the length and breadth of the land
for his strong personality, independent thought and action, affec-
tionately esteemed by all for faithful service to his country. May
Heaven's richest blessing attend hitn and bring him at last to that
immortal youth where a fuller service waits on the faithful. So may
Thy blessing attend every Member and crown his efforts with suc-
cessful service, and Thine be the praise forever. Amen.

Address of

Hon. William A. Rodenberg

of Illinois

41287°— 16


Hon. Champ Clark, Speaker of the House

UNDER a special order of the House made some time ago,
the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Rodenberg] is to control
one hour, and he is now recognized. [Applause.]

Hon. William A. Rodenberg, of Illinois

Mr. Speaker: If all sentiment were taken out of life, to live
would not be worth while. Sentiment rules the world and con-
trols the action of all mankind. Love of country, devotion to
home and family, friendship for our fellow man, all are based
on sentiment. It is one of the divine attributes of every true
and manly heart; without it the world would be dreary and
desolate, forever lost to love and laughter. It fills the soul
with hope and joy and lifts the clouds of doubt and gloom. It
is humanity's greatest boon, for it brings to all the cheer that
makes life worth the living. It is in response to a sentiment
that has its foundation in genuine affection that we meet to-day
to do honor to the best-loved Member of this great legislative
body. [Applause.]

Mr. Speaker, many stirring and exciting scenes have been
staged in this Hall. Here in days gone by many of the Nation's
greatest men have engaged in intellectual combat and the
world has been enriched by their wit and their wisdom. To-day
there rise before us again the towering forms of Garfield and
Blaine, of Randall and Cox, of McKinley and Reed, of Crisp
and Carlisle, and, as memory reverts to some of the great his-
toric scenes enacted here, and in which they played their parts
so well, our blood tingles and throbs, and we thank God that
it has been our good fortune to have had service in this House.

Proceedings in the House of Representatives

I am now concluding my seventh term as a Member of Con-
gress, and during my service here I have often been profoundly
impressed by the fact that nowhere is the doctrine of the
"sur\dval of the fittest" better exemplified than in this Cham-
ber. Here every man is measured at his real worth, and the
measurement is always true and accurate. The House has no
difficulty in separating the wheat from the chaff, and is as
quick to applaud merit and industry as it is to condemn sham
and pretense. The prestige of the man of intellectual integrity
is as lasting as that of the demagogue is fleeting.

Leadership in this House is never accidental. On the con-
trary, it is always natural and entirely logical. Length of
service may place a Member at the head of one of the great
committees of the House, but the chairmanship of a committee,
no matter how important, does not carry leadership with it.
It requires something else to be a leader and a man of genuine
influence. The real leaders in a legislative body such as this
are the men who do not adjust their sails to catch every passing
breeze, but who, when the storms of criticism beat and the
waves of opposition roll, "stand foursquare to all the winds

;at blow," let come what may. [Applause.]
If there be one such man among us, if there be one man who
has steadfastly pursued the path of public duty, and who, at
all times and under all circumstances, in good and ill report,
has had the superb courage to give expression to honest con-
viction, that man is he whom we delight to honor to-day, the
grand old hero of a thousand legislative battles, Joseph G.
Cannon, of Illinois. [Prolonged applause.]

For almost 40 years the calcium light of publicity has been
turned full and fair upon him; and the stronger and the brighter
the light, the more it has served to reveal to all the world those
sterling qualities of head and heart that have given him an en-
during place among the ablest and most courageous statesmen
of his day and generation. He has made mistakes — of course
he has. To err is human, and UnclE Joe has at all times been
intensely human; but no man, living or dead, ever saw him lower
his colors or hoist the white flag of surrender. No matter how
fast or furious the contest, he was never known to ask for

Joseph Gurney Cannon <S 80th Anniversary

quarter, but, throwing his warlike shield before him, he bade
defiance to the enemy, shouting :

Lay on, Macduff,
7\jid damn'd be him that first cries "Hold, enough!"


Mr. Speaker, including the Continental Congresses, 7,865 men
have served in the various Congresses of the United States, and
of all this number our distinguished friend enjoys the unique
distinction of having had the longest service in the House of
Representatives. The record shows that in all the years of our
national existence only three men have excelled him in length
of legislative servdce. At the head of the list stands Justin
Smith Morrill, of Vermont, whose service in House and Senate
covers a period of 43 years 9 months and 24 days. Next comes
William Boyd Allison, of Iowa, whose combined service in the
two bodies totals 43 years and 5 months. The third on the list
is William Pierce Frye, of Maine, who served in both Chambers
for 40 years 5 months and 4 days. And then comes Josi^ph Gur-
ney Cannon, of Illinois, who, upon the completion of his present
term, will have been a Member of the House of Representatives
for 40 years; and I know that I voice the sentiments of every
man in this Hall when I express the hope that he will continue
as a Member of this body until he has established a record for
length of ser\ace that will never be equaled in all the future his-
tory of the Republic. [Applause.]

UNCiyE Joe, to-morrow will be the eightieth anniversary of
your birth. Entertaining for you, as I do, the deep and abiding
affection that a son feels for his father, I deem it an honor
indeed to have been selected to extend to you on this happy
occasion the felicitations and good wishes of the entire member-
ship of this House. We wish you full measure of life's pleasure
to the end of your days, and we unite in the fervent hope that
it will be many, many years before the shades of night begin to
fall; and when they do, we know their gloom will be mellowed
and softened by the golden glow that radiates from the halo
that crowns and glorifies the patriotic life of a great American.
[Prolonged applause.]

The Speaker. The gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Sherwood]
is recognized. [Applause.]


Address of

Hon. Isaac R. Sherwood

of Ohio


Hon. Isaac R. Sherwood, of Ohio

MR. SPEAKER: Forty-three years ago, when I was on earth
for the first time [laughter], I drifted into this Congress,
that being the first term of the distinguished American whose
birthday we celebrate to-day. It has already been said, better
and more eloquently than I am capable of saying it, that he is
the most remarkable man this country has ever produced, count-
ing his service in public life. He has had a public service of 47
years — 40 years in Congress— and has been four times Speaker
of the House of Representatives. I understand that Uncle
Joe and the modest Member who is now addressing you are the
only surviving Members of the Forty-third Congress now in pub-
lic life, and it has appeared to me to be fitting to refer to some
of the incidents of that Congress, because we were called upon
to deal with great questions growing out of the Civil War, ques-
tions that appealed to the hearts and the emotions of public
men. Gen. Grant, the foremost man of all the world, was start-
ing on his second term as President. I want to call your atten-
tion to some of the developments in science and social ethics
that have occurred since that time. I remember that the ap-
propriation for the President in that Congress, for salary and
for upkeep of the White House, was $42,000. President Grant
had no bodyguard, no military aid. We Members were serving
at $5,000 a year. We had to furnish our own quarters. We
were not allowed any secretaries. The Speaker had no parlia-
mentary expert. We had no Hinds' Precedents. The country
had no automobiles. We had no wireless; we had no flying
machine; we had no canned music. Edison, the wizard of the
scientific world to-day, had not yet appeared. We had no elec-
tric cars; we had no moving pictures; no typewriting machines.
We had no preparedness talk on this floor [laughter]; we had no
Calendar Wednesday [laughter]; we had no Army and Navy
League. [Laughter.]

We had no twilight tango.

We are here to-day with a living and knock-down argument
against the theory of Dr. Osier. [Applause and laughter.] It

41287°— 16 3


Proceedings in the House of Representatives

is a mistake to suppose that a man who has reached the age of
80 years has reached the acme of his intellectual development.
[Applause and laughter.] Pope Leo XIII and John Adams were
in the full possession of their intellectual powers at 90. John
Wesley was at the height of his eloquence and at his best at 88.
Michael Angelo painted his greatest single picture that was ever
painted since the world began at 80. He made the sky and
sunshine glorious with his brush at 83. Gen. Von Moltke was
still wearing the uniform at 88, and he commanded the victo-
rious German Army that entered the gates of Paris at 70.
George Bancroft was writing deathless history after 80. Thomas
Jefferson, Herbert Spencer, Talleyrand, and Voltaire were giv-
ing out great ideas at 80. Tennyson wrote his greatest poem,
"Crossing the Bar," at 83. Gladstone made his greatest cam-
paign at 80, and was the master of Great Britain at 83. Hum-
boldt, the naturalist, scientist — the greatest that Germany ever
produced — issued his immortal Kosmos at 90.

I saw Joe Jefferson play Rip Van Winkle at his best at 75.
Goethe wrote Faust, the greatest literary achievement in all
literature — the masterpiece of literature — the last section — at
80. The Irish actor, Macklin, was still on the stage at 99.
Robert Browning was as subtle and mysterious as ever at 'j'j,
and Victor Hugo was at his best from 75 to 80.

We will concede that UnclE Joe; has passed the period of
adolescence [laughter] and that he has reached the age of dis-
cretion. You will all concede with me that the best effort of
his life was undoubtedly his oration on Abraham Lincoln, which
was delivered in this Congress. He has not reached the acme
of his intellectual development ; that will come later. [Laughter
and applause.] When he delivers his masterpiece in this Cham-
ber or in a larger forum, I hope I may be present with ears erect
to hear or eyes alert to read. [Laughter and continued ap-

The Speaker. The gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Cooper]
will take the chair. [Applause.]

Mr. Cooper of Wisconsin took the chair as Speaker pro

The Speaker pro tempore. The Chair will recognize the gen-
tleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Gillett]. [Applause.]


Address of

Hon. Frederick H. Gillett

of Massachusetts


Hon. Frederick H. Gillett, of Massachusetts

MR. SPEAKER: I am the only person in the House who
ever served on the Appropriations Committee when Mr.
Cannon was its chairman. To my mind that was the most glori-
ous and useful part of his career. Perhaps my opinion is biased
by the fact that as we grow older we are less impressionable,
and that when I was younger I was more of a hero worshiper;
but to me, even when he sat omnipotent in the Speaker's
chair and tried to be dignified and judicial and nonpartisan,
and to regulate this disorderly and sometimes turbulent assem-
bly, he was not so imposing as when he was on the floor, sure
to be in the center of any conflict, contributing in no small
measure to the heat and violence and interest of the debate,
ready always to "ride the tempest and direct the storm."

To see him in his glory, you should have seen him as chair-
man of Appropriations, in the thick of the fray, without manu-
script or notes, but all ablaze with energy, now entertaining
the House with his quaint conceits and now convincing them
with his powerful and ingenious arguments.

That, to my mind, was the sphere where his abilities shone
to the best advantage. He is by nature a floor leader. He has
the courage, the fearlessness, and that quickness of mind and
of tongue accelerating under fire, which make a man effective
on this floor.

Those of you who have come here this session can have little
appreciation, it seems to me, of what the American Congress
has sometimes been and what it may be again. Everything
this year has run so smoothly and amiably — there has been
so little bitterness and belligerency — that it is difficult to realize
the contests of the past. Our Speaker is so genial and so pop-
ular with both sides [applause], the minority leader cooperates
so heartily with his kindly spirit, and the issues which thus far
have arisen have contained so little to excite passion that we
seem to be sailing on an eternal summer sea. I hope it may
always continue so serene. [Applause.]

Proceedings in the House of Representatives

But it was in a very different atmosphere that Mr. Cannon
was trained. It was different when I first came here. I can
remember when the air of this Chamber seemed surcharged
with animosity, and there were occasions when it seemed as
if the two sides of the House were so hostile and furious that
they might at any moment rise against each other in forcible

And yet I suppose during my service it has been calm com-
pared with what preceded it. I suppose in the Fifty-first Con-
gress party heat reached its extreme. It needed then dauntless
courage and unfaltering poise to be a successful leader. And
it was in that Congress I have always understood that Mr.
Cannon really won his indisputable right to be at the front. In
that historic contest over the rules it was on him that Speaker
Reed, the most powerful and formidable figure I have ever seen
within these walls, leaned for his most reliable and effective

I came here 23 years ago. I suppose many of you think, as I
know some ambitious men in my district have long thought,
that 12 terms are an unconscionable time for anyone to serve.
[Laughter.] But when I arrived here Mr. Cannon could look
back nearly as far as that to the commencement of his service.
He was in his prime. In debate his directness, his shrewdness,
his brightness of illustration, and his gymnastics always at-
tracted universal attention. I remember being told that once
when he was making a speech with his customary vigor, rising
on his toes and prancing up and down the aisle, Mr. Reed called
out to him, sotto voce, "JOK, are you making this speech on
mileage?" [Laughter.]

But while his peculiarities of manner attracted attention,
they were but the publicity agents for the real power and
originality of his arguments. No one knew better than he how
to appeal to both the judgment and the prejudices of the House.
His quick and fertile mind not only grasped and developed all
the intrinsic force of the argument but also took advantage of
the foibles and self-interest of his audience. He did not simply
argue the merits of the proposition but he fought strenuously
to make his side prevail. He made speeches, not to circulate

Joseph Gurney Cannon ^ 80th Anniversary

in his district or to win applause, but to win votes, and if he
could not succeed the cause was hopeless.

The chairman of the Appropriations Committee generally has
the unpopular side, for he is generally fighting for economy.
I do not believe it is simply the natural prejudice of my own
membership which makes me feel that a spirit of economy
always permeates that committee far more than any other com-
mittee of the House. Now is not the time to discuss the reason
for it, which would be interesting.

But ever since I have been here the chairman of that com-
mittee has been the watch dog of the Treasury and the champion
of retrenchment. Mr. Cannon filled that role preeminently,
but with a good nature, a i^ractical common sense, a sagacious
judgment of the temper of the House, and a prudent mitigation
of abstract justice by personal necessities which won him ex-
traordinary success. He was ready to compromise when he
thought it wise and reasonable, but he never shunned a fight,
and he never surrendered till every resource was exhausted.
The adversary who anticipated an easy victory just because he
had the popular side had little appreciation of the persistence,
the knowledge, and the resourcefulness of Mr. Cannon. He
was, of course, sometimes beaten, but he often won where
another would not have dared to fight.

When I first came to Congress I had a strong prejudice
against him. But, as I watched his leadership, the time came
when if I suddenly had to vote on a question of which I knew
nothing, there was no man in the House whom I would follow
so confidently as him.

In committee he was alert, wise, timesaving, and he had that
charming quality so appreciated by ambitious younger men, of
giving them plenty of opportunity to show their powers. He
never tried to monopolize the chances of distinction, but shared
them generously with his lieutenants.

I trust he will not think it disparaging if I say that he is a
debater rather than an orator. You will recall that in the
golden days of English eloquence Edmund Burke, who, in my
opinion, wrote the finest orations ever produced, said of his


Proceedings in the House of Representatives

rival, Charles James Fox, that he was "the most brilliant and
accomplished debater the world ever saw."

Some of Fox's friends took umbrage at the phrase, and
thought the word "debater" did not do him justice. But I am
not sure it is not quite as complimentary as "orator." A de-
bater like Mr. Cannon measures his strength squarely with
his opponent, asks no time for preparation, but is always ready,
and must rely on his native powers to repel assaults, grapple
with his antagonist, and from a hand-to-hand contest win his
laurels. The orator at leisure ponders and develops and elabo-
rates his material. In the one case you see the engine at work
and can measure its actual force; in the other you see only the

It always seemed to me Mr. Cannon had not the tast&, if he
had the capacity, for elaborate preparation. He seemed to need
the stimulus of a fight to arouse his faculties. Then he could
summon his resources with unfailing facility, and showed a
readiness, an astuteness, a variety, and a vigor which were

Of course he was prepared, in the sense that he knew all
about his subject, for he was a most thorough and thoughtful
student of the questions which came before him. But he never
seemed to make any special preparation for his speeches, but
to trust to the inspiration of the moment, which has brought the
downfall of so many would-be orators, but which never failed
him. Indeed, I think his example was a bad influence on
young men by discouraging preparation. I, like other New
England boys, was brought up to believe that the price of suc-
cess was industry. I always had dinned into my ears the
verse —

The heights which great men reached and kept,

Were not attained by sudden flight ;
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

Since I have known him Mr. Cannon's "toihng in the night"
has not been exclusively over his congressional duties [laughter],
and yet his mind always seems saturated with knowledge of the
varied subjects which come before us.


Joseph Gurney Cannon "S 80th Anniversary

As he moves among us now, kindly, sedate, respected, be-
loved — a sort of perpetual statesman emeritus, bearing his 80
years more lightly than anyone I ever saw — he is an honor and
a blessing to the American Congress; but I shall always cherish
most the memory of the dauntless, resourceful, militant head
of the Appropriations Committee, defending the National Treas-
ury against all comers, fearlessly, tenaciously, judiciously, and
with a success I have never seen paralleled. [Applause.]

The SpEakkr pro tempore. The gentleman from North
Carolina [Mr. Kitchin] is recognized. [Applause,

41287°— 16 — 4 25

Address of

Hon. Claude Kitchin

of North Carolina


Hon. Claude Kitchin, of North Carolina

MR. SPEAKER : I count it a real privilege and pleasure to
participate in these ceremonies to-day. I believe the
House honors itself more than it honors the distinguished
gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Cannon] in taking, amid its busy
labors, this hour to celebrate the eightieth birthday of a man
who, in my judgment, is the most marked and unique character
that has sat. in either end of the Nation's Capitol for the last
half century. [Applause.] I am going to say in public here
now what I have a hundred times said in private, that of all
the public men whom I have ever met the gentleman from
Illinois is the most remarkable and possesses the strongest,
most practical common-sense intellect.

I remember when I first came here, 15 years ago, he impressed
me more particularly as being a big man than any other man
in the House. I sat here in my seat for three years without
ever opening my mouth on the floor of this House, and that
is somewhat remarkable, it seems to me now [laughter], but I
had an idea that it was wiser for me at first to hear and see
rather than be heard and seen. During that time I was an
intent observer, sizing up the men in this body. Outside of
partisan politics the gentleman from Illinois impressed me as
being the wisest legislator in the House. I have said that, too,
a hundred times, and I have really not seen much since then to
change my opinion. [Laughter and applause.] But when it
came down to partisan questions and partisan politics, and
especially when his blood was up — Good Lord, deliver us,
[Laughter.] And, Mr. Speaker, his partisanship was not con-
fined to men on the Democratic side of the House, either. One
of the most interesting and remarkable debates I ever witnessed
in this House was between the gentleman from Illinois [Mr.

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Online Library1st session United States. 64th CongressJoseph Gurney Cannon. Proceedings in the House of Representatives on the eightieth anniversary of his birth. Saturday, May 6, 1916 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 3)