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The U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island
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Naval Orientation - Military manual for administrative purposes
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Chapter 11 The Armed Forces of the United States
MIND  YOUR  Ps  AND  Qs THERE ARE FEW OF US WHO HAVE NOT AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER BEEN ADMONISHED TO “MIND OUR Ps AND Qs,” OR IN OTHER WORDS, TO BE- HAVE OUR BEST. ODDLY  ENOUGH,    “MIND YOUR Ps AND Qs” HAD NAU- TICAL  BEGINNINGS  AS  A  METHOD  OF  KEEPING  BOOKS  ON  THE  WATER- FRONT. IN THE DAYS OF SAIL WHEN SAILORS WERE PAID PITTANCE, SEAMEN DRANK  THEIR  ALE  IN  TAVERNS  WHOSE  KEEPERS  WERE  WILLING  TO  EX- TEND  CREDIT  UNTIL  PAYDAY. SINCE MANY SALTS WERE ILLITERATE, KEEPERS  KEPT  A  TALLY  OF  PINTS  AND  QUARTS  CONSUMED  BY  EACH SAILOR  ON  A  CHALKBOARD  BEHIND  THE  BAR. NEXT  TO  EACH  PERSON’S NAME  ,    A MARK WAS MADE UNDER “P” FOR PINT OR “Q” FOR QUART WHENEVER A SEAMAN ORDERED ANOTHER DRAUGHT. ON  PAYDAY,    EACH  SEAMAN  WAS  LIABLE  FOR  EACH  MARK  NEXT  TO  HIS NAME,    SO HE WAS FORCED TO “MIND HIS Ps AND Qs” OR GET INTO FINANCIAL  TROUBLE. TO  ENSURE  AN  ACCURATE  COUNT  BY  UNSCRUPULOUS KEEPERS,    SAILORS  HAD  TO  KEEP  THEIR  WITS  AND  REMAIN  SOMEWHAT SOBER. SOBRIETY  USUALLY  ENSURED  GOOD  BEHAVIOR;  HENCE,  THE MEANING  OF   “MIND YOUR Ps AND Qs." 10-13

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