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.
* In Senate, January 25,1798, a motion to postpone until the second Tuesday in February, some amendments proposed to the constitution. The words "until the second Tuesday in February" were struck out by way of amendment. Then it was moved to add "until the first day of June." Objected, that it was not in order, as the question should first be put on the longest time; therefore, a shorter time decided against, a longer cannot be put to question. It was answered, that this rule takes place only in filling blanks for a time. But when a specific time stands part of a motion, that may be struck out as well as any other part of the motion; and when struck out, a motion may be received to insert any other. In fact, it is not till they are struck out, and a blank for the time thereby produced, that the rule can begin to operate, by receiving all the propositions for different times, and putting the questions successively on the longest. Otherwise, it would be in the power of the mover, by inserting originally a short time, to preclude the possibility of a longer. For till the short time is struck out, you cannot insert a longer; and if, after it is struck out, you cannot do it, then it cannot be done at all. Suppose the first motion had been to amend, by striking out "the second Tuesday in February," and inserting, instead thereof, "the first of June." It would have been regular then to divide the question, by proposing first the question to strike out, and then to insert. Now this is precisely the effect of the present proceeding; only, instead of one motion and two questions, there are two motions and two questions to effect it; the motion being divided as well as the question. - Jefferson's Manual.
If an amendment and postponement are proposed, the latter is put first, because, in case of postponement, the amendment, at the time appointed, may be then brought up, when the main question is again considered.
A motion for postponement being followed by one referring the question to a committee, the latter must be put first.
A motion being made relative to reading papers which relate to the principal question, must be put before the main question.
In referring to a committee, the order of the commitment is as follows:
1st. Committee of the whole.
2d. Standing committee.
3d. Special committee.
A motion being made and seconded cannot be withdrawn, though, if no one object, the chairman need not put the question.
A motion having been made and it being subsequently moved to commit the question, or to postpone, to amend, or to lay on the table, the motion to lay on the table comes first. That being lost, the next question is on the amendment. Next comes the postponement; then the commitment, and lastly, the putting of the question.
If it is moved that a question be postponed to a certain time, the time appointed can be amended, and the amendment can be amended. The amendment to the amendment comes first, and the amendment before the main question.
It being moved to insert or strike out anything, and the matter to be inserted or stricken out being amended, the amendment must be put first.
Blanks being filled with different sums or dates, the question is to be put first on the longest time and largest sum.
A disagreement between members should be disposed of before the putting of the main question.
An appeal from the decision of the chair, or a motion to withdraw a question, must be acted upon before the putting of the main question.
When several questions have been postponed to a certain day, such questions are termed the orders of the day. Upon a motion being made on the day appointed, that the orders of the day be taken up, such motion takes precedence of any other question that may be introduced at the time, and being decided in the affirmative, must be first put. The questions are then considered in the order of their priority, in their appointment for that particular day.
A question which has been postponed to a certain hour, or which lies on the table, it is regarded discourteous to call up in the absence of the mover or against his wishes, provided the matter has reference to private and local concerns in his particular charge; especially if the delay of the question does not particularly interfere with the order of business before the general assembly.
Whenever, as is frequently the case, disagreements and questions of order arise among members of an assembly, and the chairman is appealed to as the arbitrator in such case, he will himself decide the matter, and the expression of his decision is in order before the transaction of other business. If, however, any member of the assembly objects to the ruling of the chair, he can appeal from the decision of the presiding officer, and have the matter decided by a vote of the meeting.
In such cases the presiding officer will put the question on the appeal as follows :
"It is desired that an appeal be taken from the chair. Do the members of this meeting sustain the decision of the chairman ? "
The question is then before the assembly for consideration and debate, in which the chairman will take part if he desires to do so.
As a rule in most assemblies, on ordinary questions, the chairman is not expected to participate in the debate, but simply to make statement of facts, maintain order, and facilitate the business of the meeting by affording information relative to questions in order, put questions, determine the vote, etc. While the chairman does not usually vote, he nevertheless retains the great advantage of being able to determine, if he chooses, in case of a tie vote, what the majority vote shall be.