The Stoicism of George Washington

How the First US President was Influenced by the Stoics

Donald J. Robertson
Jan 18 · 4 min read
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Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

“The mere chapter headings are the moral axioms that Washington followed through life.”

However, Washington had read at least one book on Stoicism, Seneca’s Morals by Way of Abstract (1702) translated by Sir Roger L’Estrange. It contains excerpts from Of Benefits, Of a Happy Life, Of Anger, Of Clemency and twenty-eight of the Epistles. “The mere chapter headings”, Morison says, “are the moral axioms that Washington followed through life.” For example: It is the Part of a Great Mind to despise Injuries.

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From L’Estrange’s edition of Seneca. Public domain image.

Washington’s Favourite: Cato

Seneca recommends adopting a role model and, preferring Romans to ancient Greeks, he says “Choose therefore a Cato”.

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Donald J. Robertson

Written by

Cognitive psychotherapist, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor (2019), featured in Forge, The Guardian. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002Q2WSPA

Stoicism — Philosophy as a Way of Life

Articles about Stoic Philosophy for modern living

Donald J. Robertson

Written by

Cognitive psychotherapist, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor (2019), featured in Forge, The Guardian. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002Q2WSPA

Stoicism — Philosophy as a Way of Life

Articles about Stoic Philosophy for modern living

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