Henry Martyn Robert (author of Robert's Rule of Order) was born on May 2, 1837 in Robertville, South Carolina. Son of Rev. Joseph Thomas and Adeline (Lawton) Robert, his ancestor Pierre Robert was pastor of the first Huguenot colony in South Carolina.
Reverend Robert was against slavery and moved his family to the Midwest when Henry was a child. Robert was appointed to West Point from Ohio and graduated fourth in his class in 1857. From 1867 until his retirement he was involved with most of the major river and harbor improvement and fortification projects undertaken by the United States government.
He worked on the Columbia River and on rivers in Oregon and Washington. He built lighthouses on lakes Michigan, Erie, Ontario, and Champlain, and on the Saint Lawrence River. He made river and harbor improvements on Long Island Sound and New York Harbor. In 1889 President Grover Cleveland appointed him to a board of engineers. Just before he reached retirement age he was promoted to brigadier general, chief of engineers, United States Army, on April 30, 1901.
Robert also became this country's leading parliamentarian.