Jefferson's Ten Rules

Earlier this month Michelle and I visited friends in Virginia, and one of the places we checked out was Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s primary home and plantation. I highly recommend going there if you’re ever in the area. It was very informative on many levels, but my favorite takeaway was learning what a geek Jefferson was for his day. He did things like take daily weather observations for over 50 years, and used a pantograph to keep a copy of every letter he wrote. Something else I never knew was that the view of Monticello on the Nickel actually shows the back of the house. The iconic octagonal dome isn’t visible from the front entrance.

While in the gift shop I found a refrigerator magnet listing out “Jefferson’s Ten Rules”. It turns out he liked to give advice to young people on how to lead a good life, and this “decalogue of canons for observation in practical life” was taken from an 1825 letter to the father of a baby named Thomas Jefferson Smith. The first is rather well known, but I find the others equally important.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do to-day.

Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Never spend money before you have it.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.

Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.

We seldom repent of having eaten too little.

Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.

Take things always by their smooth handle.

When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

Earlier letters he wrote contained 12 rules, but it appears he removed two of them over time. I think they are worth repeating here as well:

Take care of your cents: Dollars will take care of themselves.

Think as you please, and so let others, and you will have no disputes.

Just a little food for thought. I promise my next post will be back to my usual SQL geekery.