Volney's Ruins or Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires

Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de VOLNEY
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Year: M. DCCC. XX. (1820)
Place: Paris
Publisher: Bossage frères
Printer: L.-T. Cellot
Language: EN
Pages: Frontispice+4+XVIII+432+2plates+[6]
Condition: VG
Cover condition: G
Binding: SC
Illustrated: Frontispice+2plates

- Translated under the immediate inspection of the Author from the 6th Paris edition : to wich is added The Law of Nature; and a short biographical notice by Count Daru.

- According to the evidence discovered by the French researcher Gilbert Chinard (1881-1972), Jefferson translated the invocation plus the first 20 chapters of the 1802 Paris edition of Volney's Ruins. These first 20 chapters represent a review of human history from the point of view of a post-Enlightenment philosopher. Presumably, Jefferson then became too occupied with the 1800 Presidential campaign and didn't have time to finish the last four chapters of the book. In these chapters Volney describes "General Assembly of Nations," a fictionalized world convention wherein each religion defends its version of "the truth" according to its particular holy book. Since no religion is able to scientifically "prove" its most basic assertions, Volney concludes the book with a call for an absolute separation of church and state:
From this we conclude, that, to live in harmony and peace…we must trace a line of distinction between those (assertions) that are capable of verification, and those that are not; (we must) separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities…
- Since Jefferson did not have time to complete the translation project, the last four chapters were translated by Joel Barlow, an American land speculator and poet living in Paris. Barlow's name then became associated with the entire translation, further obscuring Jefferson's role in the project. (Wikipedia)