TWR: JFK, Thomas Jefferson, and Lincoln

Here are four interesting passages to ponder this week:

"He was the family reader."

In a biography about John F. Kennedy, the author explains that from an early age, Jack demonstrated his individuality. "There was always the sense that Jack stood somewhat apart from his large and close-knit family--he was of the unit but also outside of it. He was the family reader, the daydreamer, the introspective son, the one who relished words and their meaning, who liked poetry.

"Alone among the older kids, he had a romantic imagination, a feel of the things of the spirit, for the intangibles in human affairs. (It's what drew him to Churchill, a man whose appeal Joe Senior could never grasp.)"

Young Jack had a serious rivalry with his older brother, Joe Jr, much to Joe Senior's delight. "Remember that Jack is practicing at the piano each day an hour and studying from one-half to three-quarters of an hour on his books so that he is really spending more time than you are," he wrote Joe Jr. in July 1926.

Aiding Jack's superior intellectual prowess were his frequent illnesses and maladies. He used his time trapped in bed to read, learn, and study. "Words and their meaning interested Jack. He was the only one in the family, his sister Eunice said, who 'looked things up,' the one who 'did the best on all intellectual things and sort of monopolized them.'"

From JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century. I just published ​my entire notes on this book.​

"...whatever obstacles opposed..."

Thomas Jefferson: "[George Washington] was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed."

From Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

"...pick and cull his thoughts..."

"I Have often thought if the minds of men were laid open, we should see but little difference between that of the wise man and that of the fool. There are infinite reveries, numberless extravagances, and a perpetual train of vanities which pass through both. The great difference is, that the first knows how to pick and cull his thoughts for conversation, by suppressing some, and communicating others; whereas the other lets them all indifferently fly out in words."

-- Joseph Addison (1672-1719) was an English essayist and poet who wrote for The English Reader. Addison's works influenced a young Abraham Lincoln. This passage taught Lincon about the importance of words and the fact that no matter how much (or how little) education one had, what one said (or didn't say) mattered. (I read this in And There Was Light by Jon Meacham.

"...get a dog..."

"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." -- Harry Truman

From: The Accidental President. Read ​my notes here​.


Every Friday, I send an email with insights, ideas, and stories from the books and articles I read. I promise you'll find something new and interesting to read every week.