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

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  742 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Here are the 110 rules which George Washington copied into his early notebooks and lived by all his life--from such rules as Spit not in the fire to Sleep not when others speak. Author: George Washington Format: 30 pages, Hardcover Publisher: Applewood Books (August 1, 1989) ISBN: 978-1557091031
Hardcover, 30 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Applewood Books (first published November 30th 1887)
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Feb 20, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Every American ought to read--no, ought to own this book. It's only 44 pages, hardly a book at all. And the Rules of Civility are more a curiosity than anything else. But each of us should read and ponder the four addresses, especially Washington's 1796 statement on the occasion of him not seeking a third term as President, once a year.

A great read.
Aug 10, 2011 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Have endured a week of people that really need to read this book! Then I realized I never rated it here. Thinking over the little rules here really makes me smile, at least! It's great fun with the writing style and manners covered. I seem to remember something about "do not bedew another man with your spittle by approaching too close when you speak." ;-p And while I think we can thank our lucky stars that some rules (such as how to politely pick lice off oneself in public) are no longer relevan ...more
Jul 01, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Originally written in about 1595, (good manners never really go out of style do they?)these rules governed the conduct of our first president George Washington. Here is the first:

1. Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

This one had my boys laughing:

13. Kill no vermin, or fleas, lice, ticks, etc. in the sight of others; if you see any filth or thick spittle put your foot dexterously upon it; if it be upon the clothes of your companions, p
Apr 08, 2013 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1-american-dream
We are told that at age 14, George Washington wrote down 110 rules under the title "Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation." I doubt that anyone would question that he lived his life by these rules.

Some, of course, we would consider antiquated, but there are many gems here: Rule #1 - Every action done in company ought to be done with some sign of respect to those that are present;" Rule #6 - Sleep not when others speak, sit not when others stand, speak not when you sh
Bookworm Amir
Jul 18, 2012 Bookworm Amir rated it liked it
Well for me, basic principles (what we now call protocol) on how to conduct yourself (in terms of clothing, eating, behaving, conversing).

But truth be told - a lot more people, the public really, should read this. Not everyone has had protocol training. But even so, this is something that we learn, and learn even more throughout our lifetime. And its a set of skills that will stick with you throughout your dealings with other people in whatever way.

Manners are but fading - and we need a renaiss
Jul 13, 2008 Joshua rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any interested in rules of civility
Supposedly written by Washington in his youth, it is said that he based it on rules of etiquette written by French Jesuit monks in the 15th century. Some of the language is a little tough to understand and some of the rules are antiquated. All in all though, a very good reference book for how to act appropriately in a variety of different situations. He has stuff like, and I paraphrase: "Don't laugh at your own jokes", "Don't ask about someone's personal business" and "Don't talk poorly of someo ...more
Aug 03, 2015 Pamela rated it really liked it
Shelves: enlightened-mind
Some of my favorite rules:

#1 Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

#6 Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when other Stop.

#19 Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

#22 Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

#44 When a man does all he can through it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

Dec 12, 2014 Gerald rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, common-sense
I recently received this little book from a friend written by my relative -- not long ago I discovered that President George Washington was my 3 cousin, 6 times removed. The 110 Rules which are set forth in this little 30-page book are interesting but understandably written in what from today's point of view is very archaic language. Almost all of Washington's Rules are what would generally be considered common sense. An example of both the archaic language and common sense to which I refer is R ...more
Will Redd
Nov 26, 2014 Will Redd rated it liked it
At the age of 14, George Washington translated and copied down a list of 110 French maxims on civility and decent behavior. Reading these, I'm willing to bet that Washington would be appalled at the current state of civility in the world, but then, I'm sure there were also plenty of people in his own time that appalled him if he truly believed and followed all of these rules.

I think my favorite of the bunch is number 12: "Shake not the head, feet, or legs; roll not the eyes; lift not one eyebrow
Kristina Alley
May 01, 2014 Kristina Alley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed learning about the rules of civility that George Washington wrote when he was only 15. One of my favorites was Rule 83d: "When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, however mean ye Person be you do it too." Think on that for a few minutes. What do you think he meant with that statement? I enjoyed thinking about it. I am challenged to maintain appropriate and careful etiquette and manners though much of that has been lost in our generation and youth.
Feb 12, 2015 Ev rated it really liked it
This was a pleasant reminder of days gone past; when a modicum of decorum was seen as not exemplary, but necessary. It truly was a treasure to read, and given that our first U.S. president is author, I wish it were required reading for both public and private school systems.

Having said that, some of these rules made me "LOL":

"Run not in the streets, neither go too slowly, nor with mouth open; go not shaking your arms, kick not the earth with your feet, go not upon the toes; nor in a dancing fash
Nov 06, 2014 Ashley rated it it was ok
Though an interesting look at what constituted proper behavior for upper class men in the 18th century, this edition is not particularly clear on the actual origin of the rules (which were not written by Washington, but translated by him). It is unlikely that most people from other walks of life followed these even at the time, which is why the comments in other reviews to the effect that people should follow these more strictly today amuse me a little. Though yes, there are some very good sugge ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Sandie rated it it was amazing
One part intriguing, one part common sense, all this book is is a list of all the rules of proper etiquette those of the upper class in colonial america lived by. It's maybe paper thin and a little bigger than the palm of my hand but it's packed with interesting rules - things that made me laugh out loud in some instances. Definitely a must-read for anyone who is captivated by the colonial era or George Washington for that matter. And the language...proper and showy, just like it should be.
Belen By
May 12, 2013 Belen By rated it really liked it
I was amazed at this book and all the rules that it gave. My teacher recommended this book for me because I was doing a research paper on rudeness for my college paper and I was at the beginning thinking that this book was not going to provide me with the information that I was going to need. I was wrong and when I began to read the book I ABSOLUTELY loved it!!! Now I can see why my teacher loved this book.. It provided all the morals that people should have nowadays but lack now..
May 29, 2015 Mya rated it really liked it
Its a guide on how to act civilized n d New world
Dec 18, 2011 Robert rated it liked it
Shelves: ethics
Very interesting book of proverbs. And he wrote this when he was fourteen! I wish all parents went over these rules with their fourteen-year old children. Had to think of my own translations for not spitting in the fire and other things that no longer apply to our culture. But that process made the book even more interesting - trying to figure out why there was a rule for some things.
Mar 20, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, manners
I read the version sold at Mount Vernon, as it caught my eye in the gift shop. Nearly all the rules are perfectly applicable in a modern age, and definitely made me think about where I'm falling short!

Reaffirms the notion that Washington really was as correct and poised in reality as one imagines in the abstract- but with a sense of humor. Delightful (tiny) read!
Jan 14, 2014 Jay rated it really liked it
A very interesting little book on manners and courtesy. There are a few times that I needed to stop and 'translate' in my head what was meant, but most of the rules hold up very well. Someone else mentioned that it would be good for a teenager, and that sounds about right. Some of it is self-evident or explanatory.
Aug 05, 2013 Chrissy rated it really liked it
Charming little book; this would be a nice little gift book, and while the language is old, almost all of the contents are current. The manners required to sit "at fire" may not pertain to today, but many do such as, "Gaze not on the marks and blemishes of others and ask not how they came..."
Jun 09, 2015 Survivors rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Why don't we get this book in the first grade? Why haven't you given this book to your children? Though written in old English, just a simple list of rules that we should still be teaching our young people, let alone a good refresher for our own behavior.
May 13, 2016 Kimball rated it liked it
This was a quality little gem that I'd like to own. Many of the practices should still be put into effect today so we can be more decent people. But, sadly, they've fallen by the wayside. I liked rule #96: It's unbecoming to stoop much to one's meat. Keep fingers clean and when foul wipe them on the corner of your table napkin. Why aren't I using the word foul more in my everyday conversation? That's the best word.

There were a few rules that I thought were stupid like rule #85: In company of th
Jun 12, 2008 Krista rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history/government buffs, etiquette buffs
Shelves: history-ish
Fun, short read that - aside from reminding me of a few basic manners I'd forgotten - imparts a sense of who the young George Washington was. Really neat to see the old spellings and young writing style!
Mar 15, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it
From how to interact with important people down to the importance of not passing gas in public--GW covers it all. Glad to have read it!
Steve Scott
Feb 14, 2016 Steve Scott rated it it was amazing

This was given to me by some dear friends tonight, along with one of Donald Trump's books, "The Art Of The Comeback". They suggested I compare the two.

Trump loses. Big time.

I'd recommend this to anyone interested in developing their leadership traits, character, and overall reputation. Some of the suggestions are anachronistic, but a great number are still applicable. I wish I'd had this when I was younger.

It's English is slightly archaic, but not so opaque that a bit of patience and c
Jul 22, 2015 Denise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-chosen
wow. I think I need to buy a copy of this and try to live by these rules
Jul 26, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light and breezy read, certainly worth perusal. This book would be an excellent gift for a teenager, especially a 15 year old as that was Washington's age at the time he wrote the rules. One note of caution: I read the version first produced in 1989 by The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, with an introduction by Letitia Baldrige and it certainly does present a rather cheerful and glowing slant on Washington in their commentary (not that he had many faults, but he was human afterall!). The grav ...more
Dec 13, 2015 Chris rated it liked it
A Charming little book reportedly written by George Washington when he was just 14 years old.

The book is laid out as a list of 110 rules for decent behaviour. This may sound a bit dull but it is easy to read through as each rule is very short and most of them are perfectly relevant even today. For example; 56: "Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company" and 89; "Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust"
Bill Donhiser
A classic book on manners. Having recently traveled to Canada, Norway, and Iceland it really points out how rude, uncivilized, and lacking in manners the average american is. Although the language in this book is quite antiquated something like thous should be required in every school in our country. Once in grade school, once in middle school, once in high school and again in university (no matter what major)
Jan 08, 2014 Rachel added it
Our English language has been so dumbed down that unfortuna
Jul 14, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book has two parts. The first part is the rules of civility and decent behavior. Which are interesting and most are still relevant in today's world. These weren't actually written by the first president but were the guidelines he was taught when he was younger. You can see how it influenced him when grew up. The second half is more his writings as General and his Presidency. This is where the book bogs down unfortunately. I found his style of writing and speaking is very difficult to get th ...more
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Born in 1732 into a Virginia planter family, he learned the morals, manners, and body of knowledge requisite for an 18th century Virginia gentleman.

He pursued two intertwined interests: military arts and western expansion. At 16 he helped survey Shenandoah lands for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indi
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