It is common to hear the phrase “rule of thumb” when someone is discussing rules or regulations. Have you ever wondered about the origin of the phrase? I wish I could say it came from a children’s fable or that a famous person uttered it long ago, but unfortunately the phrase’s beginning is not as pleasant. The saying emerged around the Civil War when it was legal, and socially acceptable, for a husband to beat his wife. The only stipulation was the instrument used could not be thicker than the thumb. Thus the saying “rule of thumb” found it’s way into our everyday language.
“Rule of Thumb”
- Officers of the USS Mendota, 1864 — Share the History Love... Officers of the gun boat – the USS Mendota – in 1864. From the day of her commissioning in 1864, Mendota was assigned to the James River Division, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The first ten months she served as a picket ship near Four Mile Creek. Her guns were used to [...]
- Kiowa girl on a horse, 1890s — Share the History Love... Kiowa girl on a horse at Fort Sill, ca. 1890s. Share the History Love... [...]
- Scouts and guides of the Army of the Potomac, 1864 — Share the History Love... Scouts and guides of the Army of the Potomac at winter quarters at Brandy Station in March 1864. Standing, left to right: James Doughty, James Cammack (?), unknown, Henry W. Dodd, unknown, unknown. Seated: John M. Irby, Lt. Robert Klein (probably Sergeant Milton Cline), Dan Cole. On ground: Dan Plew, Lt. [...]
- Hornet’s Nest Brigade reunion, 1923 — Share the History Love... Veterans of the Hornet’s Nest Brigade at a Civil War reunion in Ottumwa, Iowa during June 20-21, 1923. The Hornet’s Nest Brigade included members of the 2nd, 7th, 8th, 12th & 14th Iowa Infantries who served during the war. Share the History Love... [...]
- William T. Sherman leaning on breach of gun, 1864 — Share the History Love... Gen. William T. Sherman, leaning on breach of gun, and staff at Federal Fort No. 7 in Atlanta Georgia. George N. Barnard, photographer, 1864. This photograph of Sherman was taken after three and a half months of incessant maneuvering and much hard fighting. Sherman forced Hood to abandon the munitions center [...]