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George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation (Little Books of Wisdom) [Hardcover]

George Washington
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1, 1989 155709103X 978-1557091031 Here are the 110 rules which George Washington copied into his early notebooks a
Copied out by hand as a young man aspiring to the status of Gentleman, George Washington's 110 rules were based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. The first English edition of these rules was available in Francis Hawkins' Youths Behavior, or Decency in Conversation Amongst Men, which appeared in 1640, and it is from work that Washington seems to have copied. The rules as Washington wrote them out are a simplified version of this text. However much he may have simplified them, these precepts had a strong influence on Washington, who aimed to always live by them. The rules focus on self-respect and respect for others through details of etiquette. The rules offer pointers on such issues as how to dress, walk, eat in public, and address one's superiors.

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Editorial Reviews

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About the Author

George Washington was born in Virginia in 1732. As a young man, he learned the morals, manners, and knowledge necessary to become a Virginia gentleman. He was particularly interested in the military arts and western expansion. At the age of 16, he helped survey Shenandoah lands. At the age of 22, he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel and fought in the first battles of what became the French and Indian War. Unanimously elected as the first President of the United States, Washington served two terms before retiring to Mount Vernon. He passed away on December 14, 1799.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 36 pages
  • Publisher: Applewood Books; Here are the 110 rules which George Washington copied into his early notebooks a edition (August 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155709103X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557091031
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Codes of Conduct June 19, 2001
Format:Hardcover
This collection of rules of civility was copied from a larger volume by George Washington as a small boy. The larger volume was used throughout the 18th century for the character development of upperclass gentlemen. While a few of these rules are more amusing than helpful, the overall work serves to provide the interested person a means by which to refine their conduct. Drop the self help books and adopt these rules into habit for a no-nonsense approach to better public living.
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58 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THIS costs ten bucks?! November 3, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Let me first say that I'm a George Washington fan. I've read a few biographies of "the first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen," and was excited to find this work was available in Amazon.com. Not only would I own the only book Washington ever wrote (although it was written at age 14 and was supposed to be a personal list of do's and do not's, not a book), but I would gain valuable insight into Washington's personal mannerisms as he consulted his old list frequently.
I suppose it's my fault for not carefully reading the info that Amazon.com posted. The book is a whopping 30 pages and has 110 Rules, many of which consist of only one sentence. Furthermore, most of the Rules are things that we do without thinking. One rule advises the reader not to speak "with meat in your mouth" or "Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out of your chamber half dressed." If you regularly discuss current events while a chicken leg is dangling from your teeth or serve a cold beer in your underware (unless, of course, you work at a gentleman's club), you might benefit from this book.
But I weakly attempt humor. Most of the rules, while they are common sense, remind us of how we, over 225 years later, should interact with people. Other rules advise us not to give medical advice to friends if we're not a doctor, you frustrate the sick. Don't be too hasty to spread news of someone else's misfortunes. In a business relationship, make conversation quick and to the point, yet not cold or unpleasant. While I admit that a few (five, maybe) are very outdated, many of these rules are very useful. The small size of the book allows for it to be carried in a purse or briefcase easily so that you can frequently look at it. In sum, if you have the money to burn, I say, get the book. It's helpful and insightful. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't get it as I don't think it's worth the money.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift for Graduate May 15, 2000
Format:Hardcover
This great little book will help any new graduate start in the job market. Precise, quaint and right to the point. Fits in your briefcase perfectly. And, it is hard to believe that a boy of 14 would be so insightful. Perfect for the upcoming young adults!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ageless advice for "civil" conduct. November 22, 2003
Format:Hardcover
Whether this little 30 page book is worth the price or whether George Washington copied these as a penmanship excercise from an english translation of some 16th century French Jesuit writings is immaterial.
After you read these "Rules of Civility" you will feel like carrying this little red book around with you and handing it to rude people to read Rule # 1 "Every action done in company aught to be with some sign of respect to those that are present."
How can our kids and grandkids get exposed to this kind of thinking?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Guide for the Ages July 4, 2001
Format:Hardcover
I am writing this on America's 225th birthday. Considering the Father of Our Country's intellect--generously displayed in this slim volume, it's no wondered that America has endured the hard times and prospered so majestically. A few of his rules of civility may seem archaic; "spit not in the fire" discusses an issue that most would agree is not a teeming controversy in the 21st century. Most, though, are as timely as they are sapient. From friendliness, "let your countenance be pleasant," to respectfulness, "turn not your back to others," to the profound, "when a man does all he can though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it," what George Washington termed rules of civility are truly words of wisdom to live by.
It is staggering to contemplate that a fourteen-year-old boy composed these perspicuous aphorisms. Yet, as the extraordinary man George Washington became later suggested, he was no ordinary fourteen-year-old either.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift for Anyone Who Could Use a Little Polishing November 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Note: Amazon has grouped together reviews of several different editions of this book; this review is for George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation (Little Books of Wisdom).

Debunkers are correct to point out that this book is not the original work of a 14-year-old child prodigy, as is sometimes claimed, but rather, as this edition reveals, something he copied down from an English translation of the original French, presumably as part of his school work. However, these debunkers go too far when they conclude from this that the work is meaningless because George Washington has too often been described as a self-made man who from an early age carefully, through hard practice acquired the manners and self-control for which all who ever knew him praised him.

He rather obviously took these rules to heart, which may well explain their survival in his handwriting.

The language is archaic, a few rules are obsolete, and several more about respecting one's betters have much less application in our more egalitarian world, but in general most of these still apply. Of course if you had even a half way decent upbringing, you were taught most of these already, but it never hurts to be reminded of what still constitutes good manners. Admirers of Washington might also be interested in the uniform edition of something a lot less questionably the product of his genius: George Washington's Farewell Address.

Note: Some reviewers have complained that this book is available online for free.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The wisdom and thought contained in the book is not necessarily...
I bought this copy for a friend after having read my own copy many years ago. The wisdom and thought contained in the book is not necessarily profound but does present a very... Read more
Published 2 days ago by sooner steve
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Good for all ages of audiences and evening ...
Excellent. Good for all ages of audiences and evening meal discussions.
Published 11 days ago by Robert Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Rules....You Need This
Buy this for your high school graduate....it will do them good.
Great life rules to use.
I bought 10 more for my friends.
Published 1 month ago by Daniel P. Kruse
5.0 out of 5 stars book right on
I ordered this book for my brother and he has enjoyed it so much. I recently ordered 2 more, One for my other brother and one for my son.... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars not a bad little book
This is an interesting book on the quotes of our first president. It would have been nice if it was a bit longer, but all in all, a good read.
Published 1 month ago by vic
5.0 out of 5 stars A great little gift.
This is a fund little read, the title says it all. Most of these little tidbits, still hold true today, no more need be said.
Published 2 months ago by Thomas Roth
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Books that pass down History
These little books are a great way to pass on histories values to younger generations. Their small size makes them un-intimidating to little ones developing social skills.
Published 3 months ago by Happy Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars When did we stop?
The young George Washington delivers wisdom beyond his years, certainly so for today. It is amazing that a youth could right such pithy statements. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brian Cassada
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
It's ok, almost a pamphlet not a book. Interesting to see how much more refined and civil conduct was back then. A few good tips and so on. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bradford A. Harkness
4.0 out of 5 stars George Washington's Farewell Address (Little Books of Wisdom)
The books are smaller than I expected, but are of very good quality. I still fully intend to buy all of the books in the series.
Published 3 months ago by duane patterson
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