This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
THE forms for organizing a meeting are explained upon another page. The president of the assemblage, when called to the chair, will sometimes briefly thank the audience for the honor bestowed upon him, and will then suggest that the meeting select a secretary, after which the meeting will proceed with the usual business.
The following are among the forms frequently used at the opening, and in the early portion of meetings.
Form No. 1. I thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the honor you bestow in electing me to this position.
Form No. 2.
With a deep sense of the responsibility resting upon me in assuming the duties of this position, I nevertheless fully appreciate the honor you bestow upon me in electing me as the presiding officer of your society. I hope the confidence you have given me may be fully repaid upon my part by an able and impartial discharge of my duty.
Form No. 3.
Gentlemen: I suppose it would become me, in accepting the presidency of this organization, as is customary, to assert that in choosing me you have made a very poor selection as a chairman of your meeting. But as that would be a reflection upon your judgment, and as you will doubtless soon discover all this, there is no need of parading that fact before you at this time.
I have one consolation in taking the chair. The presiding officer is not expected to make speeches. It is his business to listen. It is not his mission to inaugurate new measures. His duty is to serve the will of the meeting. My work, therefore, being light while in the chair, I accept of the position. But I am not disposed at this time to make a speech. I thank you for the trust you repose in me, and I will endeavor to perform my duty here as I understand it. The meeting being now organized, I await your further pleasure.
Form No. 4.
My thanks are due you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the honor you confer in selecting me to preside over the deliberations of your society in the coming year. I value the compliment especially as coming from a company - a society, the members of which are, in the highest sense, intelligent and well-informed. I esteem the honor, also, because you have bestowed upon me this favor of your own free will, entirely unsolicited upon my part, and I prize it because I hope in my humble way, through this position, to very materially aid you in the accomplishment of that for which we labor in common.
I enter upon my duties with a full realization of the fact, also, that my success will depend upon your support and co-operation. Hoping for that, I assume the position, trusting that I may discharge its duties, partially at least, to your satisfaction.
Speech of President Stating Object of Meeting
Organized for the general suppression of vice.
My Friends: If I do my duty here I will not regret your selecting me as the president of this convention. I especially appreciate the compliment when 1 consider the fact that the gathering includes several who have, in the various meetings of this society, honored the same position to which I am now chosen.
We meet again on this occasion to proclaim our vows of fidelity to the cause, to detail the work that has been accomplished, the good that has resulted, and the victory we hope yet to achieve. We do not hesitate to gird on our armor and continue in the service fearlessly. Very many of those 1 see before me have done battle in the work for long years. They have performed much hard labor, and they have given freely of time and money to carry the cause forward, and the result has been that we have seen the crime, once so common upon our streets, very largely suppressed. Our young men have been educated to spend their evenings amid the refining influences of home, while hundreds of debauchees have been rescued, and have returned as faithful husbands and tender fathers to their families.
Our labor has been long and arduous, but the grand results have justified the effort.
Fruitful, however, as has been our work, we are not done. Its full completion is yet in the future. But however distant away, as long as there is a soul to save from the terrible thraldom of passion and vice, so long will we press forward in this cause As we have met, and taken counsel in the past, so do we meet in consultation again.
Rejoicing in the good, grand work this society has wrought in the past, I can only hope, with yourselves, that this convention of earnest men and women will be fruitful in the suggestion and adoption of measures that will give peace to unhappy homes,, and blessing to the righteous cause.
Another Speech Explaining Object of Meeting,
Upon being chosen as the president of a society established for philosophical inquiry and investigation of religious subjects.
Ladies and Gentlemen: I appreciate the compliment you bestow in choosing me to be the presiding officer at this meeting, from the fact that whatever the attendance may be, I deem the purpose of this gathering to be one of very considerable importance. Important, because in a certain sense it is the only organization of the kind in this city, and important because in a free interchange of opinion, such as is proposed here, there is opportunity for enlargement of mental vision and intellectual growth, such as will make this society of great service to its members because of its educational privileges.
There exists great need of such an organization as will give full and free opportunity for the expression of opinions upon political, moral, social, and religious events or the hour, because in the utterance of our peculiar ideas we are liable to give a new thought, and in listening to a wide variety of opinions we learn many things.
In saying this, I am not disposed to hold the church or our clergy in light esteem. It is a fact that every well-balanced human mind possesses the organs of spirituality and veneration, - faculties that tend to worship. It is natural for every people to have a religion of some kind. It is best that they should, because, through the exercise of the religious in man's nature, the lower and base in man's nature is held in subjection. It is well, therefore, for people to assemble at least one day in seven at some stated place, at some regular time, and there, nnder the administration of some competent person, receive spiritual and moral instruction, such as is calculated to make mankind better and happier. This involves the necessity for a Sabbath, a church and a clergyman. I grant that religious teaching frequently inculcates nothing but superstition and bigotry. But this does not argue against the fact that one day in seven should be set apart as a day for religious instruction and spiritual improvement. From the fact, also, that the free-thought participants in a meeting of this character so often give expression to feelings of bitterness toward the church, I am inclined to ask you to give credit to the religious organization of the church for the following:
The furnishing of a place where we can meet for moral teaching. An earnest effort to give moral instruction. The opening of Sunday-schools, whereby the young, under the guidance of good teaching, may be taught the ways of morality. The doing of an immense amount of charitable work, the founding of hospitals and many institutions of benevolent character, by which the sufferings of people are relieved and their condition made better. In addition to this, the church, through its efficient organization, affords opportunity for social privileges among the young; in socials, pic-nics, and entertainments, while it gives social privileges to all its members of the greatest importance to any one who would pass through life successfully and happily.
I am turning out of my course, ladies and gentlemen, to give this eulogy of the church, though slightly foreign to the purpose of our meeting, from the fact that many so-called liberals are so very illiberal as to spend much of their time, when speaking, in denunciation of those who may not meet with us on these occasions. As all organized reform-effort, in whatever direction, whether religious or secular, is a step in the scale of progress, it does not become us to come here to spend time in denunciation. The purpose of the organization which we form to-day should be the presentation and discussion of those principles, methods of action, and reforms, which tend to the improvement and elevation of manhood. Whoever will give us another truth, whoever will tell us a new plan, whoever will present us something better than we have known heretofore - that person will be welcomed as a speaker, and a colaborer in this organization. With an earnest hope that this society we are organizing to-day may serve a beneficent purpose, I am pleased thus to aid in its beginning. Ladies and gentlemen, what is the further pleasure of the meeting?