You May be Whatever You Resolve to Be

Rule 48. “You may be whatever you resolve to be.”

This rule is engraved in the stonework at the Virginia Military Institute, one of the most prestigious military schools in the United States. It is one of the most memorable maxims of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Lt. General in the Confederate army.

Some have misconceptions about Jackson’s character, this post is not written to correct them, however, I will say that if you want to learn more about one of the greatest military minds of the US you should read anything on Jackson written by James I. Robertson Jr.

Thomas J. Jackson

Source History

Jackson himself opted this phrase from a minister in Connecticut.

“My friends, you may be whatever you resolve to be. Resolution is omnipotent. Determine that you will be something in the world, and you shall be something. Aim at excellence, and excellence will be attained. This is the great secret of effort and eminence.” – Joel Hawes 1851

When he was on furlough from West Point in 1844 Jackson told a cousin, “I am going to make a man of myself if I live. What I will to do I can.”

Psychologists have discussed the ideas of self-fulfilling prophecy, the belief that you can accomplish a task is what allows you to conquer it. Jackson understood that you cannot accomplish anything unless you believe you can.

Jackson 2


Personality typing has been a hobby of mine, I enjoy reading about it and studying it. One note that I found interesting was that introverts draw power from ideas, that is particularly relevant in this case. When you take an idea and hold fast that you can accomplish it you have a greater likelihood of succeeding.

It takes decision and resolution to succeed in life, to accomplish great things. This is an aspect of the American Dream, we don’t live in a country where because you were born to certain people you must take a particular path in life. Here we have the ability to work in whatever profession we determine so long as we do the work necessary for the job.


Source material Stonewall Jackson’s Book of Maxims, edited by James I. Robertson Jr. Cumberland House Publishing.


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