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Roberts Rule of Order

Henry Martyn Robert (May 2, 1837 – May 11, 1923) was an American soldier, engineer, and author. In 1876, Robert published the first edition of his manual of parliamentary procedure, Robert's Rule of Order, which remains today the most common parliamentary authority in the United States. Robert was born in Robertville, South Carolina, and raised in Ohio,

where his father moved the family because of his strong opposition to slavery. Robert's father, Reverend Joseph Thomas Robert, later became the first president of historically black Morehouse College, where there is a dormitory on the campus named after him.

Robert was nominated to West Point and graduated fourth in his class in 1857, becoming a military engineer. Robert served as Engineer of the Army's Division of the Pacific from 1867 to 1871. He then spent two years improving rivers in Oregon and Washington and six years developing the harbors of Green Bay and other northern ports. He subsequently improved the harbors of Oswego, New York, Philadelphia, and Long Island Sound and constructed locks and dams on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. From 1890 to 1891 he served as a member of the Board of Commissioners for the District of Colombia. As Southwest Division Engineer from 1897 to 1901, Robert studied how to deepen the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River. Robert was president of the Board of Engineers from 1895 to 1901. He received a tombstone promotion to brigadier general and was appointed Chief of Engineers on April 30, 1901, just before he retired from the Army on May 2, 1901. Following retirement, he chaired the board of engineers that designed the Galveston, Texas seawall following the Galveston hurricane of 1900. Robert died in Hornell, New York, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Why did he write Robert Rules? Robert wrote Robert’s Rules of Order after presiding over a church meeting and discovering that delegates from different areas of the country did not agree about proper procedure. The book is now in its 12th edition; Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR). Robert’s Rules of Order provides applicable rules governing key matters of meeting and general procedures, including:

Establishing a Constitution and Bylaws for your student organization. Structure of the meeting Agenda and debate. Motions; including making, seconding, debating, modifying and amending motions. Sufficient majority and simple majority and which decisions are appropriate to them. Establishment of a quorum. Definition of membership. Voting rights of presiding officer and voting procedures.

If you strive to be an effective chairman or active member, consider joining our Train with a Parliamentarian at Generations for America.

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