Charles Chester Reid (1868–1922)
Charles Chester Reid was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Seventh Congress, but following redistricting, he represented Arkansas’s Fifth District in the Fifty-Eighth through the Sixty-First Congress. His overall tenure in the House ran from 1901 to 1911.
Charles Chester Reid was born on June 15, 1868, in Clarksville (Johnson County) to Charles C. Reid and Sarah Robinson Reid. He received his early education in the local public schools before attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for three years. There, Reid won the annual debate medal, besting a son of U.S. Senator James D. Walker. Reid graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1887 with an LLB at the age of nineteen. At Vanderbilt, he won the university’s medal for oratory. He was admitted to the Arkansas bar that same year, but only after receiving a waiver from the circuit court, an action necessitated by his being a minor.
He soon opened a practice in Morrilton (Conway County), where he was initially associated with William L. Moose, who later served as state attorney general. Despite some allegations of electoral fraud, he was elected in 1894 to serve as prosecuting attorney of Conway County, a post he held until 1898, when he returned to private practice.
Seeking office as a Democrat in 1900, Reid won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Consistently winning reelection by large margins until he decided not to run again in 1910, Reid represented first the Fourth and then the Fifth District from March 1901 until March 1911. During his service in the House, Reid served on the Judiciary Committee as well as the Committee on Indian Affairs, the Committee on Territories, and the Mines and Mining Committee. Reid also served on the Claims Committee as well as the Committee on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic.
Upon leaving office, he again resumed the private practice of law, this time in Little Rock (Pulaski County), as a partner in the firm of Mehaffy, Reid, Donham and Mehaffy. He also served as a University of Arkansas law professor. Reid was living in Little Rock with his wife, Emma Geraldine Crozier Reid, when he died on May 20, 1922. He is interred in Little Rock’s Oakland Cemetery.
For additional information:
Barnes, Kenneth C. Who Killed John Clayton? Political Violence and the Emergence of the New South, 1861–1893. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998.
“Charles Chester Reid.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=R000142 (accessed September 23, 2021).
William H. Pruden III
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