written by Kelly Sorge
Amos Lawrence was one of America's great
philanthropists,* giving away over $700,000
in his lifetime.
Born into a farming family in 1786, his weak
health caused him to seek an
apprenticeship in business rather than
continue the strenuous physical work of
farming. Amos learned to put his long-term
goals of success ahead of his immediate
desire for companionship and drink, as his
fellow workers gathered together each day
for a drink during work hours.
When he moved to Boston at age 21, he was offered an advancement from clerk to
partner. The offer was very tempting; however, he had observed unethical business
practices in the company and declined the offer. In a few months, the firm was
Lawrence began his own business soon after and established it on principles
based on self-control and personal discipline. He kept records carefully, paid
accounts promptly, and sought only very limited credit. In less than 25 years, he had
built a very successful business.
Although he had the resources to gratify every desire, he still used self-control in
his spending, as well as in his diet, exercise, and use of time. Much of his time and
money were invested in other people's lives. He endowed schools such as Williams
He continued a long-standing discipline of writing letters to encourage and instruct
young people with sound advice. He wrote his son this advice: "Analyze more
closely the tendency of principles, associations, and conduct, and strive to adopt
such as will make it easier for you to go right than go wrong." Two of his sons later
became philanthropists like their father.
*Philanthropist--One who shows goodwill by giving large charitable gifts.
"Polka Dot Bears" Game
The object of the game is to see who can
show the most self-control by not laughing
at all during the game. The winner is the one
who goes the longest without laughing.
1. Take turns asking each other silly questions,
such as "What do you like to eat for breakfast."
2. The answer will always be "polka dot bears!"
3. If someone laughs, he is out of the game.
4. The game continues with more silly questions
and the same answer until there is only one left
who has not laughed.