Frank J. Cannon

For the Missouri Lieutenant Governor, see Franklin Cannon. For the English soccer player, see Frank Cannon (footballer).
Frank J. Cannon
United States Senator
from Utah
In office
January 22, 1896  March 4, 1899
Preceded by (None)
Succeeded by Thomas Kearns
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah Territory
In office
March 4, 1895  January 4, 1896
Preceded by Joseph L. Rawlins
Succeeded by Clarence Emir Allen
(As U.S. Representative)
Personal details
Born Frank Jenne Cannon
(1859-01-25)January 25, 1859
Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
Died July 25, 1933(1933-07-25) (aged 74)
Denver, Colorado
Political party Silver Republican Party
Republican (previously)
Spouse(s) Martha Brown (d.1909)
May Brown (m.1909)
Children Frank
Alma mater University of Deseret

Frank Jenne Cannon (January 25, 1859  July 25, 1933) was the first United States Senator from Utah, who served from 1896 to 1899.[1]

Early life

Born in Salt Lake City, he was the eldest child of Sarah Jenne Cannon and George Q. Cannon. His father was an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and later was a member of its First Presidency. After attending the school in Salt Lake City, he studied at University of Deseret, graduating at the age of 19. He would marry Martha Brown of Ogden in 1878.[2]

Political career

In 1891 he helped to organize the Utah Republican Party.[2] After a failed bid to become Delegate from the Utah Territory, he succeeded and served from March 4, 1895 to January 4, 1896. Cannon was chosen in the latter year to serve as Senator by the Utah Legislature in spite of LDS church leadership favoring his father for the job. He served in the United States Senate, initially, as a member of the Republican Party; however, he later became a member of the Silver Republican Party founded by his successor (and future employer at the Salt Lake Tribune) Thomas Kearns.[2]

Cannon lost re-election in 1899. Utah's state legislators indicated they would not support Cannon for reelection shortly after the November 1898 elections. Cannon had voted against the Dingley Act, which would have raised tariffs on sugar and helped the Utah sugar industry.[3] The Dingley bill was strongly supported by the LDS Church hierarchy, who now opposed his reelection.[3] Other factors were his support for Free Silver; rumors about immoral acts he may have committed while living in Washington, D.C.; and that the Utah legislature was controlled by Democrats.[3][4] Alfred W. McCune, one of Salt Lake City's most prominent businessmen, sought and won the backing of the LDS Church in his bid for the seat.[5] But the legislature quickly deadlocked over the election. One-hundred and twenty-one ballots were cast, and no winner emerged.[6] On February 18, a state representative accused McCune of trying to buy his vote.[7] A seven-member legislative voted 7-to-2 to absolve McCune of the charge,[6][7] and although ballotting resumed on March 8 McCune still lacked enough votes to win office (he had only 25 votes).[6][7] The legislature adjourned without having chosen a senator,[8]

Utah's U.S. Senate seat remained vacant until January 1901. The Republicans regained their majority in the state legislature in the election of 1900, and elected a wealthy mine owner Thomas Kearns to fill the seat.[6] The election was still hotly disputed. Kearns received only 8 votes on the first ballot, and balloting continued for four more days.[9] On January 22, Kearns won the election by a vote of 37-to-25 (with a unanimous block of Republican votes).[9][10]

Cannon affiliated with the Democratic Party in 1900 and served as its state chairman 1902-1904.[1]

Later life

After failing to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate by the Utah legislature, in part due to opposition by the Mormon hierarchy, Cannon worked as the editor of several newspapers, including the Salt Lake Tribune,[2] the Ogden Herald (Ogden, Utah) and established the Ogden Standard. Between 1904 and 1911, Cannon consistently supported the anti-Mormon American Party in newspaper editorials.

Cannon later rejected Mormonism and wrote a book, with Harvey J. O'Higgins, called Under the Prophet in Utah exposing the rigidly hierarchical nature of the Mormon organization. The book denounced what the authors described as the "church" leadership's "absolutism" and "interference" in politics: "[Mormons] live under an absolutism. They have no more right of judgment than a dead body. Yet the diffusion of authority is so clever that nearly every man seems to share in its operation... and feels himself in some degree a master without observing that he is also a slave".[11] The book details the negotiations Cannon participated in on Utah's behalf leading to statehood in exchange for official rejection of polygamy and LDS leadership's domination of civil politics during the 1890s, and the subsequent back-sliding he observed in the years following statehood.

During the last two decades of his life, he lectured against Mormonism and in support of "free silver" policies (as opposed to the Gold Standard). He died, at the age of 74, in Denver, in 1933.[2]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Cannon, Frank J.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Godfrey, Kenneth (1994), "Cannon, Frank J.", in Powell, Allan Kent, Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917
  3. 1 2 3 Powell, p. 70.
  4. Committee on Privileges and Elections, p. 860.
  5. Alexander, p. 10.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Whitney, p. 527.
  7. 1 2 3 Committee on Privileges and Elections, p. 863.
  8. "Utah With One Senator." New York Times. March 11, 1899.
  9. 1 2 Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events, p. 771.
  10. Powell, p. 158.
  11. Cannon, Frank Jeanne; O'Higgins, Harvey Jerrold (1911). Under the Prophet in Utah. Boston, Massachusetts: C. M. Clarke Publishing Company. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joseph L. Rawlins
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah

Succeeded by
statehood achieved
United States Senate
Preceded by
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Utah
Succeeded by
Thomas Kearns
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