From the chaos of New Bedford came the rules of Robert’s order
Historically, New Bedford has several reasons why it is famous, and one of the claims is the extraordinary story of General Henry Martyn Robert, distinguished author of The Rules of the Order of Robertas they were called.
The collection of Thoughtful Parliamentary Rules and Procedures was created in response to his disappointing 1863 performance as the appointed leader of an unruly and heartbreaking civic meeting at the First Baptist Church, which still stands today at 149, William Street. Having no experience with parliamentary directives, the public meeting ended horribly and put a young and intelligent Lieutenant Robert on his curriculum and the eventual writing of the famous The Rules of the Order of Robert.
In a larger sense, however, Robert helped bring democratic methodology to thousands of meetings across the United States beginning in 1876; it is brilliant and breathtaking, because Robert’s works have brought order, civility and fair play to all.
It would seem that at a time when civilian discourse calls for the renaming of military bases, General Robert would be a worthy candidate. I support this motion, but in October 2020, the American Institute of Parliamentarians suggested General Robert to a congressional committee tasked with proposing new names for Army bases named after Confederate officers. The list of nine base name recommendations was whittled down to over 34,000 suggestions, but General Robert was dropped.
After graduating from West Point, he was assigned as an assistant engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, which led to him being posted to several coastal towns, New Bedford being one of them.
From the first version, a booklet, to The Rules of the Order of RobertA newly revised 12th edition, it is the only current manual to have been maintained and updated since 1876 under the rolling program established by General Henry Martyn Robert himself.
It is only fitting that New Bedford, Massachusetts should have such an important role in this heritage.