Quotations on Old Age

1796 May 16. (to Mann Page). "I am growing old, and am grown lazy, and particularly [in wri]ting letters."[1]

1810 November 23. (to Charles Holt). "I am now at that period of life when tranquility, and a retirement from the passions which disturb it, constitute the summum bonum...'[2]

1811 August 20. (to Charles Willson Peale). "But though an old man, I am but a young gardener."[3]

1814 July 5. (to John Adams). "But our machines have now been running for 70. or 80. years, and we must expect that, worn as they are, here a pivot, there a wheel, now a pinion, next a spring, will be giving way: and however we may tinker them up for awhile, all will at length surcease motion."[4]

1815 February 5. (to John Vaughn). "...nothing is more incumbent on the old, than to know when they should get out of the way, and relinquish to younger successors the honors they can no longer earn, and the duties they can no longer perform."[5]

1826 February 21. (to Nathaniel Macon). "But I have observed that at whatever age, or in whatever form we have known a person of old, so we believe him to continue indefinitely, unchanged by time or decay."[6]


  1. PTJ, 29:100.
  2. University of Virginia. http://www.lib.virginia.edu/small/
  3. Peterson, Writings, 1249.
  4. Cappon, Jefferson-Adams Letters, 2:431.
  5. L&B, 14:239.
  6. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page055.db&recNum=897

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