Fifty-three years ago at a dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners, President Kennedy began his remarks by observing, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Jefferson was born on this day 272 years ago. He was the closet thing to a Renaissance man America has ever produced.
Among other things, Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the third president of the United States, founder of the University of Virginia, and the author the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom.
In 1825, Jefferson sent his grandson a letter, listing a “Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life.”
To mark his birthday, Jefferson’s canons of conduct are copied below:
- Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
- Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
- Never spend your money before you have it.
- Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
- Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
- We never 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, count to a hundred.