Thomas Jefferson Papers

Report of the Committee to Draw Up Rules of Procedure in Congress, [before 10 July 1776]

Report of the Committee to Draw Up Rules of Procedure in Congress

[Before 10 July 1776]

The Committee appointed to draw up Rules and Orders for the Government of this House have agreed to the following report.1

iii. No Member shall read any printed Paper in the House during the sitting thereof without Leave of the Congress.

vii. No Member shall speak more than twice in any one Debate without Leave of the House.

ix. No Motion shall be debated until the same be seconded.

x. When a Motion shall be made and seconded it shall be reduced to writing if Desir’d by the President or any Member2 delivered in at the Table and read by the President before the same shall be allowed to be debated.

xi. When a Motion is made and seconded the Matter of the Motion shall receive a Determination by the Question or be3 laid aside by general Consent or postponed by the previous Question before any other Motion be received.

xiv. When the Question is put by the Chair every colony present4 shall be counted on one side5 or the other unless it’s delegates be divided.6

iv. No Member in coming into the House or in removing from his Place shall pass between the President and the Member then speaking.

v. When the House is sitting no Member shall speak [or whisper]7 to another so as to interrupt any Member who may be speaking in the Debate.

[v]iii. When two Members rise together the President shall name the Person to speak.

ii. No Member shall depart from the service of8 the House without Permission of the Congress or order from his constituents.9

xvi. No Person shall be appointed to any office of Profit unless he shall have the Consent of Seven Colonies. Nor shall any Ballot be counted unless the Person for whom the Ballot shall be given be first named to the House before the balloting be gone into.

vi. Every Person shall speak from his seat, and when not spea[king] shall continue therein.10 See the Amendment.11

xii. If in a Debate there arise more Questions than one and it be controverted which Question shall be first put, the Question first moved and seconded shall be put first unless it be laid aside by general Consent.12

xiii. If a Question in a Debate contain more parts than [one] any Member may have the same divided into as many Questions as parts.

xv. No person shall walk in the house while the question is putting, nor shall any one give his vote who was not present when the question was put.13

i. The roll of the house shall be called over by the secretary every day within minutes after the hour to which it was adjourned, and all absentees without leave shall be noted on the roll, and a copy of so much of the said roll as relates to any one colony shall be sent to the Convention or assembly of such colony once in every three months.14

Dft (DLC), in various hands. Endorsed: “Report of the Comee on the rules & orders of the House, brought in July 10. 1776 Ordered to lie on the table.” The present text represents the Report as submitted by the committee; changes made in Congress are indicated in the textual notes.

On 20 June, TJ, Robert Treat Paine, and Edward Rutledge were appointed a committee to prepare rules for the conduct of Congress (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , v, 468). Before 10 July, TJ wrote the following rough notes (DLC: TJ Papers, 2: 270) for the committee, his first jottings on a subject upon which he was to become a world-wide authority—parliamentary procedure.

“No person to read printed papers.

“Every colony present, unless d[ivid]ed, to be counted.

“No person to vote unless present when question put.

“No person to walk <or rise from his seat> while question putting.

“Every person to sit while not speaking.” Orders of day at 12 o[’clock].

“Amendments first proposed to be first put.

“Commrs. or officers to be named before balot.

“Call of the house every morn. Absentees to be noted & retd. to Constity. [returned to Constituency].

“No member to be absent without leave of house or written ord. of conventn. on pain of being retd. to Conventn.”

The draft Report printed above is, with the exceptions noted, in the hand of R. T. Paine. On 17 July it was amended, approved, and spread on the Journals as amended (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , v, 572–4). The numbering of the paragraphs in the draft was evidently done between its submission and approval; the numbers are in TJ’s hand.

1Preceding six words substituted in TJ’s hand for “beg leave to report as their Opinion.”

2Preceding eight words inserted in an unidentified hand.

3This word added in TJ’s hand.

4Preceding two words substituted in TJ’s hand for “Member in the House.”

5Preceding five words substituted in TJ’s hand for “give his Voice one way or the other.”

6Preceding five words added in TJ’s hand. This and the following paragraph of the Report were deleted by Congress and are roughly crossed out in the MS.

7Brackets in MS.

8Preceding five words substituted in TJ’s hand for “leave.”

9Preceding five words substituted in TJ’s hand for “if by the withdrawing of the said Member he shall break the Representation of the Colony from whence the said Member came.”

10Preceding eight words substituted in TJ’s hand for “chair.” This paragraph was deleted in Congress.

11This sentence inserted in Charles Thomson’s hand. Article VI was revised before adoption to require members to rise from their seats and address the chair when speaking.

12This paragraph deleted in Congress.

13This paragraph is in TJ’s hand but was deleted in Congress.

14This paragraph is in TJ’s hand but was deleted in Congress; another paragraph was then added, in John Hancock’s hand, reading: “1. That so soon as nine Colonies are present in the House the Congress proceed to Business.”

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