HON. THOMAS REES - Thomas Rees, who is now representing his district in the state senate, has advanced to a position of prominence through his own efforts and, while public honors have been conferred upon him, he has also won a creditable position in the business circles of the city, during the years which have come and gone since, as a boy of thirteen, he began learning the printer's trade. He is now the treasurer and business manager of the State Register, the leading Democratic journal of central Illinois.
Mr. Rees was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, May 13, 1850, and was but nine years of age when his father, a well known newspaper man of that day, died. Four years later Thomas Rees began preparation for the business he has made his life work by entering his brother's printing office in Keokuk, Iowa, therein filling various positions in the newspaper and job departments for about thirteen years, when in July, 1876, he began business on his own account, entering into partnership with George Smith and H. W. Clendenin, a relation that was maintained until the death of the former in Springfield, in 1885, while with Mr. Clendenin he is still associated. They purchased the Keokuk Constitution, which to is former owners had proved an unprofitable investment, but the enterprise, diligence and resolution of the new owners soon wrought a change making the paper so attractive that its success was assured. Mr. Rees acted as business manager of the paper and his executive force proved an important element in the success of the new venture. In 1881 the Constitution was sold at a good profit and in June of the same year the partners purchased the State Register, Mr. Rees again taking the position of business manager. He inaugurated a careful, conservative business policy; neither was the spirit of progress lacking. He is familiar with every department of the work connected with newspaper publication, from the type-setting and press work to that of writer and compiler. There has, perhaps, been as much progress made in journalism during the last quarter of a century as in any other field of endeavor and the Register has kept pace with the general advancement.
For years Mr. Rees has been an active member of the Illinois Press Association and in 1891-2 was its president. He was sent as a delegate from Illinois to the National Editorial Association at its annual meetings in St. Paul, Detroit, Chicago and Galveston, and has been a member of its executive committee. Mr. Rees is a member of the American Newspaper Association and of the advisory committee of the Associated Press. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, the Modern Woodmen, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, of which he was exalted ruler for a term, while in the Royal Arcanum and the Royal Circle he has also held high office.
Democratic success in the city of Springfield have been due in no small measure to the efforts of Mr. Rees in behalf of his party and through his labors, he having been chairman of the Democratic city committee at one time and a member of the county executive committee for many years. It requires generalship of a high order to produce concerted action among political forces, where the individual, even though elected a member of one of the committees, has little authority over his followers. His strength must come through his personal popularity, his tact, and through action which receives public endorsement, and in the requisites of a successful political leader Mr. Rees is richly endowed. He is a man of the people and for the people, and his study of political issues has been broad and comprehensive. In the fall of 1902 he was nominated and elected on the Democratic ticket to the office of state senator, overcoming a considerable majority against his ticket, and in that capacity is now serving.
He was chairman of the citizens' armory committee that accomplished the building of the magnificent state armory and arsenal in this city, and succeeded in a short time in raising a subscription of fifty thousand dollars for the purchase of the ground which was presented to the state by the citizens of Springfield.