A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 17, 2009
“Never spend your money before you have earned it”

"Never Spend Your Money Before You Have (Earned) It” is a slogan that has appeared on T-shirts and on signs at 2009’s tea parties. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) included it in his “A dozen Canons of conduct in Life” (1811) and “Decalogue of canons for observation in practical life” (1825). The 1825 list has been frequently reprinted as “Jefferson’s Ten Rules.”

Reverend Joseph Lathrop (1731-1820) might have provided Jefferson with this line. In 1786-1787, Lathrop wrote: “Spend not your money before you have earned it, nor promise it before you are sure of it.”


Wikipedia: Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).

As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states’ rights and a strictly limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786). He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the cofounder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for 25 years. Jefferson served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793), and second Vice President (1797–1801).

A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, political leader, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. When President John F. Kennedy welcomed 49 Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” To date, Jefferson is the only president to serve two full terms in office without vetoing a single bill of Congress. Jefferson has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest of U.S. presidents.

Harvard University Library
Lathrop, Joseph, 1731-1820. Sermons: A Finding Aid.
Joseph Lathrop (1731-1820) was born in Norwich, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale University in 1754. Following graduation he taught grammar school in Springfield, Massachusetts, and studied for the ministry with the Rev. Robert Breck (Harvard, 1730) and was ordained a Congregationalist minister in 1756 in West Springfield, Massachusetts, where he served the remainder of his life. He was awarded the DD by Yale in 1791 and by Harvard in 1811. His sermons have been published in seven volumes, from 1796 to 1821.

Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
Canons of Conduct
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

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. [1]

It appears that, later in life, Jefferson pared his list down to ten canons. Here, in response to a request from the new father of a baby boy named Thomas Jefferson Smith, Jefferson listed a “decalogue of canons for observation in practical life.”

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never spend your money before you have it.
Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
We never repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
Take things always by their smooth handle.
When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.[2]

Footnotes
↑ Bear, James A. Jr., Monticello Keepsake, April 12, 1964.
↑ Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825. A transcription of the original letter is available from the University of Virginia. Original manuscript in the Library of Congress: Thomas Jefferson Papers.

The Library of Congress Shop
JEFFERSON’S TEN RULES
Never put off until to-morrow what you can do to-day.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never spend your money before you have earned it.
Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
Pride costs more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
We seldom repent of having eaten too little.’Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.
Take things always by the smooth handle.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count a hundred.
-- Printed for Free Distribution by the Brooklyn Eagle Book, Job and Pamphlet Printing Department

Zazzle.com
Never spend your money before you have earned it.
Thomas Jefferson
T-shirt
Made on 5/12/2009 5:06 AM

Historical Documents Company
Jefferson’s “A Dozen Canons of Conduct in Life”
(Item #: 915)
In 1811, when Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter, Cornelia, was 12, he sent her this loving list of twelve rules to live by. Entitled, “A Dozen Canons of Conduct in Life,” many of Jefferson’s words of wisdom are now considered common clichés in American culture and elsewhere. Also featured are a photograph of Jefferson’s home and a profile of Jefferson himself.

The Online Library of Liberty
20 August 1787, American Mercury (CT), pg. 2: 
THE CENSOR.
NUMBER IV.
FRUGALITY.
(...)
Spend not your money before you have earned it, nor promise it before you are sure of it.

13 December 1802, Commercial Register (VA), pg. 4:
The following excellent maxims are extracted from the ingenious & valuable writings of Rev. Dr. Lathrop.
“Spend not your money, before you have earned it; nor promise it, before you are sure of it. Promises, made on other men’s credit, or on mere contingencies, are liable to fail. If you disappoint your neighbour often, you lose your credit and his confidence; and perhaps provoke a suit, which breaks friendship, disturbs your peace, & augments your expence.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online
17 February 1843, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, pg. 2:
JEFFERSON’S TEN RULES OF LIFE.—
1. Never put off till to-morrow what can be done to-day.
2. Never trouble others to do what you can do yourself.
3. Never apend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
6. We never repent eating too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain those evils cost us which never happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry always count ten before you speak.

Google Books
February 1861, Our Children’s Magazine, pg. 28:
HOW THE POOR BOY BECAME RICH.
(...)
First. Do not play till your task is finished. After it is over you may play; and you will play all the better because your work is done.
Second. Do not spend any money before you have earned it.
Third. If you have but one hour’s work, see that you do it in one hour; and do not let it last two hours.

Google Books
The Salt-cellars:
Being a collection of proverbs, together with homely notes thereon

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon
London: Passmore and Alabaster
1889
Pg. 170:
Spend not your money before it be got;
Speak not your mind before you have thought.
A stock-broker’s rule was also wise: “Never sell what you have not got, and never buy what you cannot pay for.” On the last line of our old saw, we would say, Do not take down the shutters till there is something in the shop. There can be no need to display the nakedness of the land.

Google Books
August 1898, The Phrenological Journal, pg. 5, col. 2:
Jefferson said, “Never spend your money before you have earned it,” ...

Google Books
April 1899, The Southwestern School Journal (Tennesse State Teachers’ Association), pg. 13:
Jefferson’s Ten Rules.
Take things always by the smooth handle.
Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.
We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
never spend your money before you have earned it.
never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry count a hundred.

Chronicling America
9 August 1900, Valentine (NE) Democrat, pg. 3, col. 5:
Jefferson’s Ten Rules.
Take things always by the smooth handle.
Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.
We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
Never spend your money before you have earned it.
Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never put off until to-morrow what you can do to-day.
How much pain the evils have cost as that have never happened.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry count a hundred.

Google Books
Horace Mann Fourth Reader
By Walter L. Hervey and Melvin Hix
New York, NY: Longmans, Green, and Co.
1911
Pg. 78:
JEFFERSON’S TEN RULES
Never put off until to-morrow what you can do to-day.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
never spend your money before you have earned it.
Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
Prie costs more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
Pg. 79:
How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.
Take things always by the smooth handle.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count a hundred.
-- THOMAS JEFFERSON.

25 February 1912, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, pg. 2:
Ten Golden Rules
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never spend money beforeyou have earned it.
Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
Pride costs more than hunger, thirst, or cold.
We seldom repent having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.
Take things always by the smooth handle.
When angry count ten before you speak, if very angry count a hundred.

28 June 1915, Gazette-Telegraph (CO), pg. 12:
JEFFERSON’S TEN RULES
Never put of until tomorrow what you can do today.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never spend your money before you have earned it.
Never buy what you don’t want because it is cheap.
Pride costs more than hunger, thirst and cold.
We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
How much pain the evils have cost us that have never happened.
Take things always by the smooth handle.
When angry, count 10 before you speak; if very angry, count 100.

Tea Party Slogans Repository
Never Spend Your Money Before You Have Earned It. 
Thomas Jefferson
(From a sign displayed at a tea party in 2009—ed.)

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