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Washington’s Rules Of Civility & Decent Behavior

110 maxims about civility and decent behavior in public which originated in the late 16th century in France were popularly circulated in Virginia during George Washington's boyhood in the first half of the 18th century. At the age of 16, Washington carefully wrote out his own personal copy of the 110 Rules in his schoolbook. This exercise by the yet-to-be President and Father of Our Country is regarded as a formative influence in the development of Washington's character and stood him well during his rise to the top. The Rules included guidelines for behavior in pleasant company, appropriate actions in formal situations, and general public courtesies.

How well do you know the Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior of The Father Of Our Country as specified in the following excerpts? Are you civil enough to be president?

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1. When sitting down to eat meat...

a. smell the meat to make sure it is not foul or spoiled.

b. be sure to have the proper utensils.

c. do not scratch, spit, cough or blow your nose.

d. make sure Joe Lieberman is not a dinner guest.

2. When approaching another man, do not get so close that...

a. the odor of your breath can be detected.

b. your spittle gets on his face when you talk.

c. your presence makes him uncomfortable.

d. he recognizes you.

3. Kill no fleas, lice, ticks or bugs...

a. while in the outhouse.

b. in the sight of others.

c. with your bare hand.

d. on the face of the first lady.

4. Do not be tedious in discourse or in reading unless...

a. the tediousness is also relatively brief.

b. it is essential to the conduct of your business.

c. you find that the company is pleased with it.

d. you are the host of a public radio public affairs program.

5. When at the dinner table, do not spit forth...

a. any foul tasting or spoiled food.

b. the seeds of any fruit pie.

c. your wine.

d. your opinions of the French.

6. In the presence of others...

a. do not snort, cough, spit or wheeze.

b. keep your mouth closed while not talking or eating.

c. do not sing, hum or drum your fingers.

d. do not admit to reading the editorial pages of the Santa Rosa Press


7. If you see any filth or thick spittle on the floor...

a. put your foot dexterously upon it.

b. point it out to the servants.

c. discretely wipe it up with your handkerchief.

d. ask the vice president how it got there.

8. If you must cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn in public...

a. don't do it loudly.

b. ask to be pardoned.

c. cover your nose and mouth.

d. don't do it during the State of the Union speech.

9. If you soak your bread in sauce be sure that it...

a. is fully soaked.

b. does not drip on the way back to your mouth.

c. is no more than what you can put in your mouth at a time.

d. has first been tasted by Joe Biden.

10. Do not go out of your chamber...

a. without your wig.

b. half dressed.

c. drunk.

d. with your mistress.

11. Do not spit...

a. on the sidewalk.

b. in the fire.

c. at the table.

d. on Mitt Romney during televised debates.

12. Do not wear clothes that...

a. are foul, ripped or dusty.

b. do not fit properly.

c. do not match as to color and pattern.

d. belong to your wife.

13. While you are conducting a conversation with someone...

a. do not roll your eyes or scoff at their remarks.

b. do not laugh at them unless they are joking.

c. do not point at them with your finger.

d. do not bring up Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

14. Do not clean your teeth with...

a. your fingers.

b. your wife's hatpin.

c. a knife.

d. the quill pen you used to sign the morning's legislation.

15. When drinking, do not...

a. gaze about.

b. swallow loudly.

c. guzzle big gulps.

d. vomit on the Japanese Prime Minister.

16. Let your discourse with men of business be...

a. short.

b. truthful.

c. direct.

d. accompanied by bagfuls of hard currency.

17. When visiting the sick...

a. cover your face with your handkerchief.

b. show sympathy for their condition.

c. do not act like a doctor if you are not a doctor.

d. offer to sell them private health insurance at a nice discount.

18. If you happen upon a public spectacle...

a. do not laugh too loud.

b. politely ask the participants to stop.

c. go on about your business.

d. pass the hat amongst the other onlookers.

19. Do not cut bread...

a. with a dull, greasy knife

b. that has a hard crust.

c. in the presence of company.

d. at all.

20. Do not sleep when...

a. in the presence of a person of superior station.

b. eating.

c. others speak.

d. the Vice President is telling you what you have to do.

21. In speaking to men of quality...

a. do not look them full in the face.

b. wear your best clothes.

c. do not speak too loudly.

d. don't ask them if they have a criminal record.

22. If you say anything witty and pleasant...

a. apologize if any offense was taken.

b. do not laugh at yourself.

c. excuse yourself.

d. promise not to do it again.

23. When walking down the street...

a. keep your eyes focused on where you are going.

b. do not shake your arms or kick the dirt.

c. keep your back straight.

d. do not acknowledge the existence of persons in another political party.

24. Do not inquire about other people's...

a. family difficulties.

b. personal business.

c. marks and blemishes.

d. bathroom habits.

25. When in Company, do not put your hands ...

a. in your pockets.

b. on any part of the body that is covered.

c. behind your back.

d. over your ears.

26. Put not off your clothes...

a. in the wrong sequence.

b. onto the floor.

c. on television.

d. when in the presence of others.

27. Take all admonitions and criticisms thankfully and gracefully, but afterwards if you are not at fault ...

a. make a note to take your revenge at a more opportune time.

b. write the critic off as a dullard.

c. tell everyone who heard the remarks that the critic is an illigitimate offspring of the Treasury Secretary.

d. let the critic know he was wrong privately.

28. As regards disparaging gossip that flies around...

a. do not be hasty to believe it.

b. do not repeat it without first checking it.

c. be sure to tell the object of it about it.

d. only start gossip, don't repeat gossip from others.

29. When it is a time of mirth or gaiety at the table...

a. do not overindulge in spirits.

b. do not speak of doleful things

c. always laugh at other people's jokes.

d. do not mention the opposite sex.


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