Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thomas Brackett Reed, Speaker of the House of Representatives

My husband had been listening to a program that talked about a very powerful Speaker of the House that almost no one knew, Thomas Brackett Reed. Mr. Reed was the Speaker of the House from 1889 to 1891 and then again from 1895 to 1899. He was a Republican.

As my husband was reading me information about Mr. Reed, I realized that Thomas Reed was politically active when a distant cousin of mine switched political parties. Henry Moore Teller was one of the two Senators elected when in 1876 Colorado achieved statehood. Henry Teller became the leader of the Silver Republican Party. But switched parties in 1896 when the Republicans would not support a bi-metal currency standard.

Being a history junkie, I wanted to learn more about Mr. Reed as he was also politically active during the time that another cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, was actively involved in politics. Thomas Reed was facing many of the stalling tactics that I witnessed over the years by the political party not in the majority at any given time.

The Democrat House members who were in the minority at the time were able to make the House of Representatives ineffectual by using loop holes in the rules of the House. Thomas Reed stood up against the the errant Democrats and created rules of procedure that became known as the Reed's Rules.

What really surpised me was the Democratic Party viewed themselves as against big government. Speaker Reed was able to give the Speaker of the House far greater powers than any of his predecessors held. Later he rued the fact that he had contributed to the expanse of government control.

When I was in high school, I thought that the message that the Republican Party promoted was small government. Something seems to have changed with the Republican Party. The party is looking much like it did a little over 100 years ago.

It is sad to see the fragmentation of the Republican Party. But this may be meant to be another chapter in the evolution of the Whigs, Republicans, et. al.

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