But it made it possible for these few men to perpetuate a machine and to ignore the desires of the rest of the party representatives and of the voters of the party throughout the country. The defeat of Cannonism put an end to the autocratic power of the Speaker and relegated him to the position of a mere presiding officer.
The revolt against "Cannonism" in the House had its counterpart in the Senate. By the time the Aldrich tariff bill came to a vote , about ten Republican senators rebelled. The revolt gathered momentum and culminated in 1912 in the organization of the National Progressive party with Theodore Roosevelt as its candidate for President and Hiram Johnson of California for Vice-President.
The controversy also covered the methods of procedure of both the Senate and the House, and the fight on "Uncle" Joe Cannon as Speaker, or on "Cannonism," which characterized the last session of the Sixty-first Congress, was one of the instances of this difference of opinion in the party.
It was not against party organization that the insurgents finally raised their lances, but against the arbitrary use of the machinery of the organization by a small group of intrenched "standpatters." The revolt began during the debate on the Payne-Aldrich tariff, and in the campaign of 1908 "Cannonism" was denounced from the stump in every part of the country.
Insurgent Republicans were carrying the party primaries; and the Democrats, who were plainly confident, emphasized strongly the tariff act, Cannonism and the high cost of living as reasons for the removal of the Republicans. The result was a greater upheaval than even the Democrats had prophesied.
It was widely believed that Cannon, like Aldrich in the Senate, effectually controlled the passage of legislation, with slender regard to the wishes or needs of the people. "Cannonism" and "Aldrichism" were considered synonymous.