TIME magazine recently marked its 90th birthday by reprinting the March 3, 1923, cover of Volume 1, Number 1. It’s a portrait of U.S. Rep. Joseph G. “Uncle Joe” Cannon, R-Danville.
Cannon, 86, was retiring after a record 46 years in Congress. He had served as House speaker from 1903-11. The Cannon House Office Building in Washington was named after him, as were Cannon School, Cannon Park and Cannon Street.
“He feels he has earned the right to spend the rest of his life in the quiet seclusion of Danville, Ill.,” TIME wrote. “ … He represents the Old Guard in the very flower of its maturity.”
TIME recalled Speaker Cannon’s iron-fisted rule over House committees, debate and legislation. His mastery of partisan politics and parliamentary procedure stifled reform and Big Government for years.
“Never did a man employ the office of Speaker with less regard to its theoretical impartiality,” TIME wrote. “To Uncle Joe, the speakership was a gift from heaven, immaculately born into the Constitution by the will of the fathers for the divine purpose of perpetuating the dictatorship of the Republican Party and he followed the divine call with a resolute evangelism that was no mere voice crying in the wilderness, but a voice that forbade anybody else to cry out — out of turn.”
Cannon died in Danville on Nov. 12, 1926, at age 90.
In February 1913, 10 years before TIME was launched, more than 500 people attended a testimonial dinner to Cannon at the Raleigh Hotel in Washington. Cannon had been defeated for re-election in November 1912 and planned to retire.
The menu included turtle soup, Chesapeake bass, filet of beef, potato croquettes, stuffed royal squab and Roman punch. The addresses were recorded in a 106-page hardcover book titled “Dinner to Cannon — 1913.”
Guests included the Republican president, the Democratic speaker of the House, the chief justice and associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, senators, representatives, generals, admirals, and other dignitaries.