The office of President is one of much responsibility. No one deficient in the qualifications of industry, application and energy, should accept it. The President is the master moving-spirit, and, by his zeal and efforts, may give animation and vigor to the whole Society, or by his supineness and neglect,thwart the most active exertions of his associates. His duties are of high importance, and should be well understood, and promptly and cheerfully discharged.
1. It is not usually expected of the President to serve on committees, but this does not exonerate him from seeing that all the committees are attending to their duties.
By virtue of his office,he is made, in many Societies, a member of all committees, and may attend their meetings, take part in their deliberations, (without voting, however,) and urge them to action. He should never omit to call over each committee at every stated meeting.
2. The President should see that all the officers attend to their respective duties- that financial and other reports are ready to be presented at the proper time - that the requisitions of the Charter are complied with - and that the Constitution and Bylaws are properly enforced, and not allowed to remain a dead letter.
3. He should carefully watch the state of the finances, see that proper efforts are made for the collection of the Society's revenue, from dues, fines, and other sources, and caution the members, when necessary, against imprudence in expenditures.
4. In meetings, he should take the chair punctually at the proper time; announce all business; receive and submit all proper motions, petitions, reports and communications; put the vote as soon as the meeting is ready; enforce order and decorum in debate; decide promptly all questions of order; decide promptly who is to speak, when two or more members rise at the same moment; and be careful to see that all business is brought up in its proper order.
5. He should familiarize himself with decisions on points of order, so as to be able to meet every case likely to arise, and thus avoid the necessity of confessing ignorance, by referring the question to the Society for decision. The influence of a President is soon weakened, if he exhibits embarrassment in matters of this sort.
6. Especially should the President carefully watch the members in debate. It is his duty to hear every word that is spoken, and every speaker should have his undivided attention. At the first word of personality or impropriety, he should promptly interfere, and call the speaker to order. Very often members are permitted to go to great lengths in personalities, before they are checked, and then the individual assailed claims the right to reply, so that crimination and recrimination are sure to follow. This evil should be carefully guarded against,by checking it at its commencement.
7. The President should ever preserve a courteous and conciliating deportment to all, not overlooking the humblest member. In the appointment of committees, he has many opportunities for bringing humble merit into notice, and of testing and making available the capabilities of those around him. He should carefully avoid both petulance and favoritism, act with strict impartiality, and by his deportment throughout, show himself deeply interested in the prosperity of the Society.
8. While the President is thus, in a measure, the director of the Society, he is also its servant. It is his duty to carry out and obey the instructions of the Society ; to authenticate by his signature, when necessary, its proceedings, and to represent, and stand for the members, whenever and where-ever the Society is required to appear as a unit.
9. In small bodies it is not usual for the President to rise when he is putting a question ; but in large Societies or meetings, while he may read sitting, it is more dignified to stand while taking a vote.
10. In all ballotings, and on questions upon which the yeas and nays are taken, the President is required to vote, but his name should be called last. In other cases it is not usual for the President to vote, unless the members be equally divided, or unless his vote, if given to the minority, will make the decision equal - and in case of such equal division, the motion is lost.
11. Congressional and Legislative usage gives the presiding officer a right to call a member to the chair, in order that he may take the floor, in debate. The practice, however, is not a matter of very frequent occur-rence, as in these bodies the Speaker has opportunities for giving his views on every bill, in committee of the whole.