Do you remember learning how to write? Just like you, George Washington spent time
practicing his handwriting and learning how to spell through copying.
George Washington’s Rules of Civility
When he was about 12 years old, George Washington practiced copying The Rules of Civility
and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation to improve his handwriting and to help him
learn good manners. Good manners were very important in the 18th-century! He knew that
people would respect him more if he was polite and respectful of others.
Look at some of the 110 rules that George Washington copied out and see if you can read the
colonial style writing. Copy the rules into your notebook.
To help you out, here are a few tips and hints for reading 18th-century writing:
Two hundred years ago, more words were capitalized than today.
Notice that spelling has changed since the 1700s.
Today when we read documents written by George Washington and other people who
lived a long time ago, we sometimes get confused because the letter that looks like our
“f” was actually an “s” in colonial times!
How would you say this today? Rewrite the two rules that George Washington wrote as a boy in
your own words.
Class create a list of 10 Rules of Civility for the classroom. Have each student write a rule of
civility for attending a parade/reception/dinner honoring George Washington.
Mind Your Manners