1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Reed, Thomas Brackett

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REED, THOMAS BRACKETT (1839-1902), American statesman, was born in Portland, Maine, on the 18th of October 1839. He graduated at Bowdoin College in 1860; was acting assistant-paymaster in the U.S. navy from April 1864 to November 1865; and in 1865 was admitted to the bar. He was a member of the Maine House of Representatives in 1868-69 and of the state Senate in 1870, was attorney-general of the state in 1870-72, and was city solicitor of Portland in 1874-77. He was a Republican member of the National House of Representatives from 1877 until 1899; was a member of the Potter Committee to investigate the disputed presidential election of 1876, and conducted the examination of Samuel J. Tilden; and he was Speaker of the House in 1889-91, and in 1895-99. He was a “strong” speaker in his control of the proceedings, and he developed an organized committee system, making the majority of the Committee on Rules consist of the speaker and chairman of the committees on ways and means and on appropriations. The “Reed Rules,” drawn up by him, William McKinley and J. G. Cannon, were adopted on the 14th of February 1890; they provided that every member must vote, unless pecuniarily interested in a measure, that members present and not voting may be counted for a quorum, and that no dilatory motion be entertained by the speaker. His parliamentary methods were bitterly attacked by his political enemies, who called him “Tsar Reed.” He greatly hastened the passage of the McKinley Bill in 1890, and of the Dingley Bill in 1897. His rules and methods of control of legislation were adopted by his successors in the speakership, and the power of the Rules Committee was greatly increased under Charles F. Crisp (1845-1896), Democratic speaker in 1891-1895. After the war with Spain Reed broke with the administration on the issue of imperialism. He resigned his seat in 1899 and practised law in New York City. He died in Washington on the 7th of December 1902. Reed was a remarkable personality, of whom many good stories were told, and opinions varied as to his conduct in the chair; but he was essentially a man of rugged honesty and power, whose death was a loss to American public life.

Reed's Rules were published as a parliamentary manual. He edited with others a Library of Modern Eloquence (10 vols., 1901). See the chapter on Reed in H. B. Fuller's Speakers of the House (Boston, 1909).