The usage is now well established that no anonymous call for a Town or Ward meeting, is entitled to any attention whatever, from discreet and sober-minded citizens. Every call should have one or more signatures, or the endorsement of some committee, in order that the public may know something of the source whence the call emanates. The call should also state, in brief but explicit terms, the object of the meeting. Vagueness in this matter sometimes leads to serious difficulty. A call for a meeting of citizens "on the Oregon Question," would give any one, whether in favor or otherwise of possessing Oregon, the right to be present, although the authors of the call might have intended it to embrace those only in favor of claiming the whole of that territory. So also, with a call for a meeting " to consider the expediency of abolishing the Death Penalty," which phraseology opens the door to those who sustain capital punishment, as well as to those who oppose it. The words "friendly to," or "opposed to," are generally sufficient to render the whole matter clearly understood. Very many meetings in this city have been rendered entirely abortive, and many converted into scenes of confusion and disorder, from the want of proper attention to these particulars.
1. At the appointed hour, one of the gentlemen whose name appears on the call of the meeting, should open the business, by nominating a Chairman, as follows: -"Gentlemen, as the hour designated for this meeting has arrived, I propose that we proceed to organize, and beg leave to nominate Mr. - , as Chairman." This motion being seconded, he will immediately proceed: - "It is moved and seconded that Mr. - take the chair - gentlemen in favor of that motion will please to say 'aye' " - and, (after a short pause,) "those of the contrary opinion will please to say 'no.' " If the ayes are a majority, he will add, "the motion is agreed to - Mr. - will please take the chair."
2. The Chairman thus chosen will immediately proceed to the stand, and Say: -"The meeting will please come to order -will the meeting nominate a Secretary?" Some other individual, who has also been prominent in calling the meeting, will then nominate a Secretary or Secretaries, as the case may be, and upon these nominations the Chairman will put the question as follows: - "Gentlemen, you have heard the nominations just made - shall these gentlemen be your Secretaries? As many as are in favor, say 'aye,' - contrary opinion, 'no.' " If the ayes prevail, as is almost always the case, he will declare the gentlemen to be chosen, and invite them to take their seats at the desk. In case Vice Presidents are appointed, they should be nominated previous to, or in connection with the Secretaries. When the business of a meeting is thus opened, it rarely happens that any opposition is made to the regular nominations for officers. All opposers may safely be set down as disorganizes, as the right to nominate officers clearly rests with those who called the meeting. Upon them rests the responsibility and expense, and to them belongs the honor of commencing the proceedings, and of opening the way for business.
3. The meeting being thus organized, the Chairman will ask for, or produce himself, the call of the meeting, as published in the papers or in handbills, which he will read, or cause to be read by the Secretary. Or, he may, at his option, instead of reading the call, verbally offer some remarks explanatory of the objects of the meeting. Either course is strictly in order. This being done, the Chairman will say, "the meeting is now organized, and ready to proceed to business."
4. The proper course is then for some individual, who has been designated for that duty by the persons who called the meeting, to rise and say - "Mr. Chairman - I move that a committee be appointed to draft resolutions for the action of the meeting," or, "expressive of the sense of the meeting." The motion being seconded, the Chairman will, after asking if the meeting "is ready for the question," put the question in the manner before mentioned. If the motion prevails, the Chairman will say "the motion is agreed to," and ask: "Of how many shall the committee consist?" Some member of the meeting will then probably nominate "three," perhaps another "five," and another "seven." The custom is to take the question on the highest number first. If that does not prevail, the Chairman will proceed with the next highest, and so on until the meeting agrees to a certain number. If only one number be named, and that number be five, the Chairman will say: "The number five has been named, and as no other number is mentioned, the committee will consist of five."
5. The Chairman should then ask: "How shall the committee be appointed- will the meeting nominate?" If those present desire to name the committee, they will then nominate, and when the number is filled up, and the names read off by the Secretary, the Chairman will say, "Shall these gentlemen be your committee?" If no objection be offered, he will add - "they will be your committee ?" The most usual course, however, in forming committees, is,
3* for several voices to say, "the Chair will appoint," whereupon the Chairman will ask, "Is it the pleasure of the meeting that the Chair appoint the committee?" If no objection be made, he will then, himself, select and announce the committee.
6. It is customary to place the gentleman who makes a motion, as the first on the committee, it being understood that he will act as its chairman. Any other course is calculated to give offence, and I have known such an omission regarded as a personal affront. If the gentleman so named, or any other appointed on the committee, does not wish to serve, he may decline. In such cases it is usual for the gentleman to assign his reasons, whereupon the presiding officer asks, "Shall the gentleman be excused?" and if no serious objection be made, he will declare him excused, and appoint another in his place. As a general rule, gentlemen ought not to move to raise committees, involving labor and trouble, unless they are willing to share that labor and trouble themselves.