Read an Excerpt
Robert's Rules in Plain English 2eA Readable, Authoritative, Easy-to-Use Guide to Running Meetings
By Doris P. Zimmerman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Doris P. Zimmerman
All right reserved.
How It All Began
Parliamentary procedure came to America with our ancestors. The term refers to the rules that have evolved over time to facilitate the democratic transaction of decision making in an organized group.
American parliamentary procedure is based on the procedural rules used in the English Parliament. Early American parliamentary procedure consisted of what the early settlers remembered of those rules. The complex system of English parliamentary law had developed over time in an awkward and unsystematized manner by a process of decisions and precedents.
It is no wonder the colonists had difficulty in remembering specific and intricate details.
At the time of the founding of our country, each colony had its own ideas of procedure. During the Continental Congress, each colony had different rules regarding how delegates were to be elected, the number of people they should represent, and so forth.
This confusing state of affairs continued until 1801. Thomas Jefferson, while serving as vice president, saw the need for a written and uniform system of rules. He compiled the Manual of Parliamentary Practice, which was immediately adopted by both the House and the Senate to prevent needless haggling over procedure.
At the same time, Americans began forming many different kinds of organizations -- political, cultural, scientific, and so forth. Jefferson's manual was too complex and beyond the ability of the average citizen.
It was not until 1876 that Henry Martyn Robert, a practical, precise, and civic-minded engineer, put together a small book of rules specifically designed for nonlegislative organizations. He wrote that his parliamentary manual was "based, in its general principles, upon the rules and practices of Congress, and adapted in its details to the use of ordinary societies."
That first Robert's Rules of Order was an almost instant success. Groups who adopted it as a parliamentary authority were now free from the hassle of struggling with the rules governing their meetings.
Today we can be a part of any meeting in any state and know that the rules will be the same if Robert's Rules of Order is the adopted parliamentary authority. Motions are amended the same way whether the meeting takes place in California or in New York.
Excerpted from Robert's Rules in Plain English 2e by Doris P. Zimmerman Copyright © 2005 by Doris P. Zimmerman.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.