A Prominent Mainer

This Photograph of Thomas B. Reed is from Sauk Valley Media.

The third chapter in Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’ is entitled ‘End of a Dream – The United States: 1890-1902’. I finished reading it this afternoon. It can be no coincidence that she closed her period with the year in which the gentleman whose portrait appears above died on 2nd December.

A Republican from Maine, the Speaker of the House, this giant of a man in all respects according to Tuchman, dominated the political scene during this decade until the public mood brought about his retirement to his legal practice.

This was a period during which the struggle between the adherents of the basic constitutional principles and the bellicose expansionists resulted in the United States going to war against Spain in Cuba and the Philippines.

Reed had begun by successfully taking on Democrat filibustering techniques and changing the working of the house. He continued his isolated position battling against the popular imperialist tide until he realised he would be no more successful than had been England’s King Cnut.

‘Canute was 40 when he died in 1035. He was also known as Cnut the Great, King of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden. By the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 his story was quickly becoming lost to time but his relationship with the tide lingers on.

We can thank the historian Henry of Huntingdon who recorded the story of the tide in the 12th Century. The general consensus is that Canute sat his throne on the beach and commanded the tide not to rise so that his royal presence would remain dry…… 

Apparently Canute was trying to prove a point about Kings and God: โ€˜Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.โ€™ (https://www.firstclasssailing.com/blog/the-king-canute-dispute/)

The great man from Maine would have agreed with him.

It is perhaps significant that some United States soldiers in the Philippines perpetrated similar mass reprisals against villages any member of which was believed to have killed one of their men.

Later this afternoon we visited Elizabeth and enjoyed a lively conversation, interrupted by a call from Patrick.

Earlier I had received a similar call from the same gentleman. “This is Patrick”, he said, “I am calling about your Government grant for the lagging you have recently had installed in your loft”. Quick as a flash, because I am attuned to these things, because I hadn’t phoned anyone about it, and because we hadn’t had any lagging done, I replied: “Bugger off, Patrick and try and scam someone else”. He hung up. Had I had more time I might have strung him along a bit, but I wanted to finish my chapter.

Elizabeth’s Patrick may or may not have been the same as mine. “I think you’ve got the wrong number”, she said. He hung up.

This evening Jackie and I enjoyed a second sitting of the excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Coonawarra.


  1. You’re getting a lot of mileage out of one bottle of Coonawarra. Sometimes with the Patricks of this world I ask them to wait while I turn the computer on and then I put the phone down and wander off to do other things until they hang up.

  2. Well, your title certainly caught this Mainer’s attention. I must hang my head in shame and admit I was unfamiliar with this Republican, who certainly seems like a different breed from the ones we have now. Also, I really admire your snappy response to the scammer. Wish I could come up with a similar quick retort when the occasion calls for one.

  3. We get our share of “Patricks.” I have learned from digital security training I have to complete before the beginning of every academic year that scam calls should not be answered because anything beyond “Hello,” i.e. when the scammer says something and you answer, gives him/her access to your data. If your phone is connected to Internet, it may also affect all your computer data and open path to viruses.
    King Canute was quite a personality, from what is known about him, and so was Thomas Reed, of whom is known quite a bit.

  4. Thank you for this thoroughly intriguing piece Derrick…”Canute was trying to prove a point about Kings and God: โ€˜Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.โ€™ ” …. I shall do some more research, about King Cnut…

  5. Well of course you had no time for the caller’s shenanigans – you needed to finish that marvelous book! And thanks for teaching us, your blogging readers, about Reed the Mainer. I live in New England but didn’t know about him. A strong-willed and strong thinking man. Cheers to good dinners with wines and beer to match!

      1. It is so true. We are on this earth for a short time and we are forgotten pretty quickly. But thatโ€™s what history books and historical fiction are for-to remember our feats and foibles.

  6. It is very depressing that so many ingenious people spend so much of their time trying to scam people. If you don’t report it, the police are able to claim that crime has gone down because it is much more risk free to try to scam people than robbing corner stores.

  7. Scammers are becoming smarter and scarier. If they use the landline, I leave it off the hook. Fortunately, my cell phone gives me the option of blocking the number straight away. I too am enjoying your snippets of history, Derrick.

  8. Oh, darn those Patricks in life!!!
    Glad you dealt with him swiftly and got back to finishing your chapter!
    I had two such calls today…but they were from Patricia.
    HUGS!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks very much, Merril, especially for that link – Tuchman would have agreed with the assessment. I don’t answer the mobile unless I recognise the caller, but I’ve never properly set the landline with names and numbers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. You do manage to pack a lot of information into each of your blogs, Derrick. Canute’s daughter has a memorial not too far East of you in Bosham Church,near to which she is said to have drowned at the age of 8.

  10. I have a trick I adopt with scammers, I pick up the phone but don’t speak and within a second they assume an answerphone is about to kick in and they ring off, it works every time. Anyone genuine waits before putting down the phone.

  11. A very interesting article, Derrick. I have never read about the man. Unfortunately, this kind of people are rare, whereas the ‘Patricks’ are abundant, as I learned from the comments.

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