Reed, Thomas Brackett

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Reed, Thomas Brackett

Thomas Brackett Reed, 1839–1902, American legislator, b. Portland, Maine. A lawyer, he served in the state assembly (1868–69) and state senate (1870) and became (1870–73) state attorney general before he was elected (1876) as a Republican to the U.S. Congress. Reed quickly took his place among the leaders of his party. As Speaker of the House (1889–91, 1895–99) he inaugurated the "Reed Rules" (1890)—one of which determined the House quorum by the count of members present rather than by the count of those voting. "Czar" Reed, as he was known, also arbitrarily used the speaker's power of recognition to prevent minority obstruction and to facilitate orthodox Republican legislation in the face of strong opposition. Reed was an advocate of high tariffs. He strongly opposed the war with Spain, the annexation of Hawaii and the Philippines, and the ensuing expansion program. Reelected in 1898, he retired from Congress in 1899 and then practiced law in New York City.

See biographies by S. W. McCall (1914, repr. 1972) and J. Grant (2011).

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