50. Chairman or President. It is the duty of the chairman to call the meeting to order at the appointed time, to preside at all the meetings, to announce the business before the assembly in its proper order, to state and put all questions properly brought before the assembly, to preserve order and decorum, and to decide all questions of order (subject to an appeal). When he "puts a question" to vote, and when speaking upon an appeal, he should stand;* [In meetings of boards of managers, committees and other small bodies, the chairman usually retains his seat, and even members in speaking do not rise.] in all other cases he can sit. In all cases where his vote would affect the result, or where the vote is by ballot, he can vote. When a member rises to speak, he should say, "Mr. Chairman," and the chairman should reply, "Mr. A;" he should not interrupt a speaker as long as he is in order, but should listen to his speech, which should be addressed to him and not to the assembly. The chairman should be careful to abstain from the appearance of partizanship, but he has the right to call another member to the chair while he addresses the assembly on a question; when speaking to a question of order he does not leave the chair.
51. The Clerk, Secretary or Recording Secretary, as he is variously called, should keep a record of the proceedings, the character of which depends upon the kind of meeting. In an occasional or mass meeting, the record usually amounts to nothing, but he should always record every resolution or motion that is adopted.
In a convention it is often desirable to keep a full record for publication, and where it lasts for several days, it is usual, and generally best, to appoint one or more assistant clerks. Frequently it is a tax on the judgment of the clerk to decide what to enter on the record, or the "Minutes," as it is usually called. Sometimes the points of each speech should be entered, and at other times only the remark that the question was discussed by Messrs. A., B. and C. in the affirmative, and Messrs. D., E. and F. in the negative. Every resolution that is adopted should be entered, which can be done in this form: "On motion of Mr. D. it was resolved that, &c."
Sometimes a convention does its work by having certain topics previously assigned to certain speakers, who deliver formal addresses or essays, the subjects of which are afterwards open for discussion in short speeches, of five minutes, for instance. In such cases the minutes are very brief, without they are to be published, when they should contain either the entire addresses or carefully prepared abstracts of them, and should show the drift of the discussion that followed each one. In permanent societies, where the minutes are not published, they consist of a record of what was done and not what was said, and should be kept in a book.
The Form of the Minutes can be as follows:
"At a regular meeting of the M. L. Society, held in their hall, on Tuesday evening, March 16, 1875, Mr. A. in the chair and Mr. B. acting as secretary, the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved. The committee on Applications reported the names of Messrs. C. and D. as applicants for membership; and on motion of Mr. F. they were admitted as members. The committee on --- reported a series of resolutions, which were thoroughly discussed and amended, and finally adopted as follows:
"Resolved, That * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "
On motion of Mr. L. the society adjourned. L- B-, Secretary.
If the proceedings are to be published, the secretary should always examine the published proceedings of similar meetings, so as to conform to the custom, excepting where it is manifestly improper.
The Constitution, By-Laws, Rules of Order and Standing Rules should all be written in one book, leaving every other page blank; and whenever an amendment is made to any of them, it should be immediately entered on the page opposite to the article amended, with a reference to the date and page of the minutes where is recorded the action of the society.
The secretary has the custody of all papers belonging to the society, not specially under charge of any other officer. Sometimes his duties are also of a financial kind, when he should make such reports as are prescribed in the next section.