Jefferson and Volney's Ruins of Empire
Thomas Christian Williams discovered, or more accurately, rediscovered—Thomas Jefferson’s anonymous translation of Volney’s Ruins of Empires. Volney’s book was widely read in the United States during the 19th century. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman are among the personages said to have read Volney’s Ruins. In 1923 a French researcher discovered letters between Volney and Jefferson that implied, but did not prove, Jefferson translated Ruins of Empires. Williams has discovered the Massachusetts Historical Society possesses a manuscript that proves, once and for all, Jefferson’s involvement with this controversial book and will outline the discovery in his talk.