Canons of Conduct by Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson often took the opportunity to advise his children, grandchildren and others on matters of personal conduct. Over the years he developed a list of axioms for personal behavior. Some were his own invention; others derived from classical or English sources.

Jefferson’s most extensive list is the one he sent to Cornelia Jefferson Randolph, a young granddaughter, while she was visiting her older sister and new brother-in-law.

A dozen Canons of conduct in Life

Canons of Conduct by Thomas Jefferson
Canons of Conduct by Thomas Jefferson

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

Never trouble another with what you can do yourself.

Never spend your money before you have it.

Never buy a thing you do not want, because it is cheap, it will be dear to you.

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

Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.

We never repent of having eat too little.

Nothing is troublesome that one does willingly.

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

Take things always by their smooth handle.

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

When angry, count 10. before you speak; if very angry, 100.

See Thomas Jefferson quotes


  1. It has been a revelation of sorts to “realize” the sayings I came up hearing. This post gave me a moment to reflect on my Grandparents. Thank you. – Cree MH


  2. Found you on Blogging 101. Have followed you on twitter. Tooooo many emails with this class! Thanks for this site!


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