Congressman Joe Cannon (R-Ill.) was known for a number of things. Firstly, he was one of the most powerful Speakers of the House from 1903-1911. Secondly, he was for much of his career a conservative firebrand and often disagreed with Theodore Roosevelt. Thirdly, his longevity in politics. Cannon served with only two interruptions from 1873 to 1923, serving from Presidents Grant to Harding. When Cannon first took his seat in the House in 1873, Reconstruction was still underway and the government was moving away from a war economy. By the time he retired in 1923, historians largely condemned Reconstruction, the government was again moving away from a war economy, and the GOP’s platform was explicitly conservative, embracing tax reduction and limited government involvement in the economy. Cannon, a protege of Abraham Lincoln, was strongly supportive of these conservative trends in the party.
The above example should at least strike some curiosity in readers and lead us to ask, is it possible the GOP, at minimum from an economic standpoint, was always conservative? I more than think so, and he is not the only example I can provide. However, if were to go into further detail, this wouldn’t be a quick thought, now would it?