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Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain



Maya Angelou

Thomas Jefferson

On Walking


In 1785 Thomas Jefferson was the Minister to France and lived in Paris. He walked two hours every day and kept a Journal. He wrote extensively about his daily life in Paris. In the 18th Century the average lifespan of a healthy male in the Virginia Colony was under 25. Jefferson did not design the campus of the University of Virginia until he was 76 in 1819 and he lived to build every building on the campus at thee time and create what they would teach there and by whom. He even decided who would attend the University. The University of Virginia was his proudest achievement.

Place Royale 1709 - It is located 15.2 miles from the center of Paris and the buildings are the future home of the Faculty of Medicine.

From Jefferson's Journal -

1785 August 19 - “Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises, being assured that they will gain strength by exercise as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual. Give about two of them [hours] every day to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong.”


Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743 and died on July 4, 1826. In his day not many people lived past 30

On his tombstone his instructions for the inscription would state that he was the author of the Declaration of American Independence and the Father of the University of Virginia. Jefferson firmly believed that physical exercise ensured not only bodily health, but mental health as well. Walking was his preferred activity. From 1784 - 1789 Jefferson was in Paris as the Minister to France. He walked the streets of the city of Paris for two hours each day. Most of his meetings were on those walks.



Jefferson's Paris in 1784




















Jefferson signed a nine-month lease at the Hotel Landron at 5 cul de sac Taitbou on 16 October 1784. He lived there until 17 October 1785 when he moved to the Hotel de Langeac on “Avenue de Neuilly” (Champs-Elysees.) He made eight walking excursions with Pierre Cabanis during his residence at Hotel Landron. During these outings, Cabanis acquainted him with the French capitol city, the people who lived there, and the enlightened trends in French thought. In the course of these introductions, Jefferson grasped the French concept of Progress and became a progressive. In the spring and summer of 1785, in other words, Jefferson became enlightened.

The French have one of the lowest rates of heart attacks and illness per capita amongst any people on earth. It is thought that their use of fresh ingredients to make most of their meals contributes to this factor and that they spend quality time preparing them while enjoying the company of each other and their families. At noon they return to their dinner table and have long lunches and after lunch they usually take a nap, as they have shuttered their business until three in the afternoon. They also take the month of August off from work each year.


Thomas Jefferson’s Paris Walks

by Diana Ketcham

with photographs by Michael Kenna



The ninety-fourth Arion Press publication is an original illustrated edition, Thomas Jefferson’s Paris Walks. Jefferson, that remarkable man, was unusual in his love of walking in the city. The city was Paris, after the American Revolution and before his term as third President. Here the forty-year-old Jefferson took daily strolls for exercise and often walked to conduct his business as a diplomat and patron of the arts. The renowned photographer Michael Kenna created forty-six images to accompany the story of Jefferson’s five years in Paris. Written as a guidebook, the essay leads the reader along Jefferson’s actual routes. Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, and Gouverneur Morris are characters in the narrative, along with artists such as Jean-Antoine Houdon and Beaumarchais.

“Paris is everywhere enlarging and beautifying,” Jefferson exclaimed when he arrived in August of 1784. The city’s new institutions, markets, churches, mansions, and bridges fascinated the amateur architect from Virginia. Arion Press invited Michael Kenna, known for his work on French landscape and gardens, to follow Jefferson’s footsteps in Paris. Added in are notes from Jefferson’s diary at the time.


From Jefferson's notes: Aug. 27, Paris 1786

“If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong. The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is best. A horse gives but a kind of half exercise, and a carriage is no better than a cradle. No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired. A person who never walked three miles will in the course of a month become able to walk 15 or 20 miles without fatigue. I have known some great walkers and had particular accounts of many more; and I never knew or heard of one who was not healthy and long lived. This species of exercise therefore is much to be advised. Should you be disposed to try it, as your health has been feeble, it will be necessary for you to begin with a little, and to increase it by degrees. For the same reason you must probably at first ascribe to it hours the most precious for study, I mean those about the middle of the day. But when you shall find yourself strong, you may venture to take your walks in the evening after the digestion of the dinner is pretty well over. This is making a composition between health and study. The latter would be too much interrupted were you to take from it the early hours of the day, and habit will soon render the evenings exercise as salutary as that of the morning. I speak this from my own experience, having, from an attachment to study, very early in life, made this arrangement of my time, having ever observed it, and still observing it, and always with perfect success. Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather should be little regarded. A person not sick will not be injured by getting wet. It is but taking a cold bath, which never gives a cold to any one. Brute animals are the most healthy, and they are exposed to all weather, and of men, those are healthiest who are the most exposed. The recipe of those two descriptions of beings is simple diet, exercise and the open air, be it’s state what it will.”

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Fitbit will actually join Google

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