Thomas Brackett Reed

0
48

Thomas Brackett Reed : biography

October 18, 1839 – December 7, 1902

Unable to deny their presence in the chamber, Democrats then tried to flee the chamber or hide under their desks, but Reed ordered the doors locked. (Texas Representative "Buck" Kilgore was able to flee by kicking his way through a door.) Roger Place Butterfield, The American Past (1966) p. 254 Trapped, the Democrats tried to hide under their desks and chairs; Reed marked them present anyway.

The conflict over parliamentary procedure lasted three days, with Democrats delaying consideration of the bill by introducing points of order to challenge the maneuver, then appealing the Reed’s rulings to the floor. Democrats finally dropped their objections on January 31, and Smith was seated on February 3 by a vote of 166–0. Six days later, with Smith seated, Reed won a vote on his new "Reed Rules," eliminating the disappearing quorum and lowering the quorum to 100 members. Though Democrats reinstated the disappearing quorum when they took control of the House the following year, Reed as minority leader proved so adroit at using the tactic against them that Democrats reinstated Reed Rules in 1894.House Document No. 108-204: The Cannon Centenary Conference: The Changing Nature of the Speakership

Civil Rights

In 1889–90, Republicans undertook one last stand in favor of federal enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment to protect the voting rights of blacks in the Solid South. Reed took a special interest in the project. Using his new rules vigorously, he won passage of the Lodge Fair Elections Bill in the House in 1890. The bill was later defeated in a filibuster in the Senate when Silver Republicans in the West traded it away for the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.Wendy Hazard, "Thomas Brackett Reed, Civil Rights, and the Fight for Fair Elections," Maine History, March 2004, Vol. 42 Issue 1, pp 1–23

Political life

Born in Portland, Maine, Reed attended public school, including Portland High School, before graduating from Bowdoin College in 1860. He studied law. After college, he went on to become an acting assistant paymaster,for the United States Navy, from April 1864, to November 1865, and was admitted to the bar in 1865. He practiced in Portland, and was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, in 1868 and 1869. He served in the Maine Senate in 1870 but left to serve as the state’s Attorney General 1870–72. Reed became city solicitor of Portland 1874–1877, before being elected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth and to the eleven succeeding Congresses, serving from 1877, to September 4, 1899, when he resigned.Samuel W. McCall, Thomas B. Reed (1924) ch 1–3

Presidential aspirations and departure from Congress

Official portrait of Thomas B. Reed. Reed tried to obtain the Republican nomination for President in 1896, but Ohio Governor McKinley’s campaign manager, Mark Hanna, blocked his efforts.

In 1898 Reed supported McKinley in efforts to head off war with Spain. When McKinley switched to support for the war, Reed disagreed. He resigned from the speakership and from his seat in Congress in 1899 to enter private law practice.Samuel W. McCall, Thomas B. Reed (1914) pp 231–39

On a nostalgic trip to Washington in 1902 he had a sudden heart attack and died; Henry Cabot Lodge eulogized him as "a good hater, who detested shams, humbugs and pretense above all else." He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Portland, Maine. His will was executed by his good friend Augustus G. Paine, Sr. from New York.

Landmarks

There is a Reed House at Bowdoin College.

His home town of Portland, Maine, erected a statue of him at the corner of Western Promenade and Pine StRobert Klotz. "Portland Locations with National Political Significance". Portland Political Trail. Accessed April 21. http://www.usm.maine.edu/~rklotz/exhibits/revtrail.htm in a ceremony on August 31, 1910.

In 1894, he published his handbook on parliamentary procedure, titled Reed’s Rules: A Manual of General Parliamentary Law, which was, at the time, a very popular text on the subject and is still in use in the legislature of the State of Washington.

Biographies

Biographies of the life of Thomas Brackett Reed have been written by Richard Stanley Offenberg, in 1963, and by Mead Dodd in 1930. Most recently, finance writer James Grant wrote the biography entitled, "Mr. Speaker! The Life and Times of Thomas B. Reed: the Man who Broke the Filibuster."