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Richard M. Youngs

Clerk of House of Rep's, U. S.

City of Washington, D. C.
August 16, 1851.

I have carefully compared Burleigh's edition of the RULES AND ORDERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, and the JOINT RULES OF THE TWO HOUSES OF CONGRESS, with the edition printed for the use of the House of Representatives, and found the same accurate.

Asst. Clk. Office House of Reps U. S.





RULE 1. He shall take the chair every day precisely at the hour to which the House shall have adjourned on the preceding day; shall immediately call the members to order; and, on the appearance of a quorum,* shall cause the Journal of the preceding day to be read.

R. 2. He shall preserve order and decorum; may speak to points of order in preference to other members, rising from his seat for that purpose; and shall decide questions of order, subject to an appeal to the House by any two members; [on which appeal no member shall speak more than once, unless by leave of the House.t]

R. 3. He shall rise to put a question, but may state it sitting.

R. 4. Questions shall be distinctly put in this form, to wit: "As many as are of opinion that (as the question

* A majority of the House.—See U. S. Constitution, Article I., Sec. 5. Difficulties have often arisen as to a supposed discrepancy between the appeal contemplated in this rule and that referred to in rule 35. There is no discrepancy. The question of order mentioned in the second rule relates to motions or propositions, their applicability or relevancy, or their admissibility on the score of time, or in the order of business, &c. The "call to order" mentioned in rule 35, on which, in case of appeal, there can be no debate, has reference only to "transgressions of the rules in speaking," or to indecorum of any kind. See also rule 51, in which debate on an appeal, pending a call for the previous question, is prohibited.


April 7, 1789.

April 7, 1789.

Dec 23, 1811.

April 7, 1789.

April 7 1789.


may be) say Ay,"* and after the affirmative voice is expressed,

"As many as are of the contrary opinion, say No.* If the Speaker doubt, or a division be called for, the House shall divide: those in the affirmative of the question shall first rise from their seats, and afterwards those in the negative. If the Speaker still doubt, or a count be required, the Speaker shall name two members, one from each side, to tell the members in the affirmative and negative; which being reported, he shall rise and state the Sept. 15, decision to the House. [No division and count of the House by tellers shall be in order, but upon motion seconded by at least one-fifth of a quorum of the members.] R. 5. When any motion or proposition is made, the question, "Will the House now consider it?" shall not be put unless it is demanded by some member, or is deemed necessary by the Speaker.


R. 6. The Speaker shall examine and correct the Journal before it is read. He shall have a general direction of the Hall. He shall have a right to name any member to perform the duties of the Chair, but such substitution shall not extend beyond an adjournment.

R. 7. All committees shall be appointed by the Speaker, unless otherwise specially directed by the House, in

April 7, 1789.

Dec. 12, 1817.

Dec. 23, 1811.

Jan. 13, 1790.

* The U. S. Constitution prescribes YEA and NAY. Art. I., Sec. 5.

The manner of dividing the House, as originally established by the rule of April 7, 1789, was, that the members who voted in the affirmative went to the right of the Chair, those in the negative to the left. This was, doubtless, taken from the old practice of the House of Commons in England. The passing of the members to and fro across the House was found so inconvenient, and took up so much time, that the mode of dividing the House was, on the 9th of June, 1789, changed to the present form, the members of each side of the question rising in their seats and being there counted.

The two counters stand about three feet apart, in front of the SPEAKER'S desk. Every member voting in the affirmative passes between the counters. Also every member in the negative. This plan is both more expeditious and less liable to mistakes than any other method ever devised.

which case they shall be appointed by ballot,* and if, upon such ballot, the number required shall not be elected by a majority of the votes given, the House shall proceed to a second ballot, in which a plurality of votes shall prevail; and in case a greater number than is required to compose or complete a committee shall have an equal number of votes, the House shall proceed to a further ballot or ballots.

R. 8. The first-named member of any committee shall be the chairman; and in his absence, or being excused: by the House, the next named member, and so on, as often as the case shall happen, unless the committee, by a majority of their number, elect a chairman.t

R. 9. Any member may excuse himself from serving on any committee at the time of his appointment, if he is then a member of two other committees.

* The rule, as originally adopted, April 7, 1789, directed that the Speaker should appoint all committees, unless the number was directed to consist of more than three members; in which case, the ballot was to be resorted to.

†The occasion of this rule was this: Mr. John Cotton Smith, of Connecticut, had been chairman of the Committee of Claims for several years, and, on the 5th November, 1804, was reappointed. On the succeeding day he was excused from service on the committee, and his colleague, Samuel W. Dana, was appointed "in his stead." The committee considered Mr. Dana its chairman; he declined to act, contending that he was the tail. Being unable to agree, the committee laid the case before the House on the 20th November. Up to this time, there was no rule or regulation as to the head of a committee; the usage had been that the first-named member acted; but it was usage only. The subject was referred to a committee. On the 22d November, 1804, the committee reported, and recommended that the firstnamed member be the chairman; and in case of his absence, or of his being excused by the House, the committee should appoint a chairman, by a majority of its votes. The House rejected this proposition. The Committee of Claims the next day notified the House that, unless some order was taken in the premises, no business could be done by the committee during the session; and thereupon, on the 20th December, 1805, the House adopted the above rule. In this case the Committee of Claims availed itself of the privilege contained in the last clause of the rule, and elected Mr. Dana chairman, much against his wishes.

Dec. 20,


April 13, 1789.


Dec. 20, 1805.

R. 10. It shall be the duty of a committee to meet on the call of any two of its members, if the chairman be absent, or decline to appoint such meeting.

R. 11. In all other cases of ballot than for committees, a majority of the votes given shall be necessary to an election; and where there shall not be such a majority on the first ballot, the ballots shall be repeated until a Sept. 15, majority be obtained. [And in all ballotings blanks shall be rejected, and not taken into the count in the enumeration of votes, or reported by the tellers.]

R. 12. In all cases of ballot* by the House, the Speaker shall vote; in other cases he shall not be required to vote, unless the House be equally divided, or unless his vote, if given to the minority, will make the division equal; and in case of such equal division, the question shall be lost.t

R. 13. In all cases where other than members of the House may be eligible to an office by the election of the House, there shall be a previous nomination.

R. 14. In all cases of election by the House of its officers, the vote shall be taken viva voce.

R. 15. All acts, addresses, and joint resolutions, shall be signed by the Speaker; and all writs, warrants, and subpoenas, issued by order of the House, shall be under his hand and seal, attested by the Clerk.

R. 16. In case of any disturbance or disorderly conduct

April 7, 1789.

April 7, 1789

April 7, 1789.

Dec. 10, 1839.

Nov. 13, 1794.

March 14, 1794.

*The word here used, in the original formation of the rule, was election. On the 14th January, 1840, it was changed to the word ballot.

†On a very important question, taken December 9, 1803, on an amendment to the Constitution, so as to change the form of voting for President and Vice President, which required a vote of two-thirds, there appeared 83 in the affirmative, and 42 in the negative; it wanted one vote in the affirmative to make the constitutional majority. The Speaker, (Macon,) notwithstanding this prohibition of the rule, claimed and obtained his right to vote, and voted in the affirmative; and it was by that vote that the amendment to the Constitution was carried. The right of the Speaker, as a member of the House, to vote on all questions, is secured by the Constitution; no act of the House can take it from him, when he chooses to exercise it.

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