Thomas Brackett “Czar” Reed

The statue of “Czar” Reed, commemorating the long political career of Thomas Brackett Reed, was created in 1908 by Burr C. Miller, an American sculptor resident in Paris.  Reed was an American legislator born in Portland on October 18, 1839.  He served in several political positions in the State and was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1877-1899, serving as Speaker of the House in 1889-91 and again from 1895-99. Reed inaugurated the “Reed Rules” in 1890.  These parliamentary methods were bitterly attacked and Reed became known as “Czar” Reed by many, because these rules dramatically increased the power of the Speaker of the House.  In particular, Reed sought to circumscribe the ability of the minority party to block business, thus enabling the majority party to make decisions that the minority had previously been able to paralyze through parliamentary actions.  Although opinions varied as to Reed’s conduct as chair, he was known as a brilliant politician of power with an acerbic wit.  His size, standing at over six feet in height and weighing almost 300 pounds, also distinguished him.

The Thomas Brackett Reed Memorial Association of Portland was responsible for the fundraising and installation of this statue in 1910.  Its total cost of $35,000 was paid for entirely by funds raised by the Association.  A plaque on the rear of the statue at the base was added in 1989.  Its inscription includes a description of Reed as “Statesman and Man of Conscience.”  The statue is eight feet high and represents Reed in an attitude of repose with a scroll in his left hand.  The pedestal is  Maine granite and is nine feet high.  It is appropriate that the statue stands as a commanding presence on a hillside overlooking the Western Promenade where Reed lived as a boy.