Thomas Brackett Reed
The Gilded Age Speaker Who Made the Rules for American Politics
Sales Date: July 21, 2022
304 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: July 2022
- Published: July 2022
Defining a “statesman” as “a successful politician who is dead,” Thomas Brackett Reed gave himself some latitude in pursuing his goals as a congressional leader. His leadership style is encapsulated in the Reed Rules, which serve as the institutional foundation of the modern House of Representatives and as a metaphor for the practice of power politics for partisan ends.
Thomas Brackett Reed tells the story of a roller-coaster career in the Gilded Age. Speaker Reed reached a pinnacle when Republicans enacted landmark legislation in the aftermath of a transformation of parliamentary procedure spearheaded by his dramatic refusal to recognize delaying tactics permitted under the rules in 1890. Months later, Reed led Republicans to a disastrous off-year election, which cost his party unified governmental control and left it with only 26 percent of House seats. He returned as Speaker of the House in the late 1890s, when he became alienated from other Republicans over the issue of American expansionism.
Combining extensive archival research with political science findings, Robert Klotz offers a balanced portrayal of Reed’s leadership in Congress. While empowering the House majority party to govern, the Reed Rules can also elevate partisan discord by allowing majorities to craft bill-specific special rules and to neglect opposing viewpoints. Ultimately, the biography illuminates the transcendent challenge of finding compromise in polarized politics.
“Learned, eloquent, and witty, Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed was a leading light of nineteenth-century congressional leadership. A prolific defender of majority rule and political party organization in the House, Reed built key aspects of the modern legislative process and the Speakership. This book captures Speaker Reed’s persona, his politics, and his lasting importance in a readable and compelling way.”—Douglas B. Harris, Loyola University Maryland
Series Editor In Memoriam
1. Preparing for Congressional Battle
2. The Bumptiousness of a Young Congressman
3. Elephant Avoiding Mousetraps
4. Minority Leader Scolds Democrats
5. New Speaker Establishes Majority Rule
6. Gladly Takes Own Medicine
8. Conspicuously Beaten for President
9. War Speaker
10. Cashing In