Why do empires rise and fall? According to the French philosopher Volney, “Empires rise if government allows enlightened self-interest to flourish.” Volney published his theory in a 1791 book entitled “Ruins of Empires.”
In the United States, an 1802 translation of “Volney’s Ruins” was widely influential in abolitionist and human rights circles: George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman are known to have read it.
In the modern day, the book explains the rise of the United States and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The book also provides a solution to the world’s enduring religious conflicts. What few people know today is that the popular 1802 translation of “Volney’s Ruins” was secretly penned by Thomas Jefferson.
Author Thomas C. Williams, a former member of the political section at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, will discuss the reason why Jefferson anonymously translated “Volney’s Ruins” and how the book’s observations apply to the modern day.
Date: Tuesday, March 26
Place: Reid Hall, 4 rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris, France – Maison Verte
Entry: €10 for all, limited seating