Another one from the category "See how little you know about your home state."
I'm watching Ken Burns' documentary "The Congress" yesterday when there's mention of Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine. "Who?," says I. Click "like" below if you're from Maine and you haven't heard of him either. How many Speakers of the House are from Maine? Two, I believe, Blaine being the other. So you'd think that would be a common name to hear during our educations in Maine.
Reed was an important enough figure to be mentioned in an hour and a half documentary on a subject as vast as the U.S. Congress, despite the fact that he was Speaker well over 100 years ago.
As I've done with other similar blogs, I won't write a biography as much as encourage you to learn more.
I will tease you with this and include the below link and excerpt. His efforts to increase the powers of the Speaker were dramatic and lead to the tenure of one of the more powerful Speakers ever, Joseph Gurney Cannon of Illinois.
There's even a street named after him and a statue on the Western Promenade in Portland.
During his time as Speaker, Reed assiduously and dramatically increased the power of the Speaker over the House; although the power of the Speaker had always waxed (most notably during Henry Clay's tenure) and waned, the position had previously commanded influence rather than outright power. Reed set out to put into practical effect his dictum that "The best system is to have one party govern and the other party watch"; this was accomplished by carefully studying the existing procedures of the U.S. House, most dating to the original designs written by Thomas Jefferson. What followed has popularly been called the "Battle of the Reed Rules".
UPDATE: Author Evan Thomas was on "207" tonight talking about his new book about the Spanish American War, and Reed's name comes up as one of the few prominent politicians who were against the war. WCSH6.com Portland, ME Newsweek's Evan Thomas