NYC Resources311Office of the Mayor

Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Rufus King Park

Back to Event List

Talking about History - Rufus King's Reading in London: Using the History of Rome to Understand the French Revolution

Saturday, April 26, 2014

4:00 p.m.5:00 p.m.

Please note: This event has already taken place. Please use the Search options on the right to find upcoming events.

From 1799-1803, when Rufus King was serving as Minister to Great Britain, he read Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and recorded excerpts from this book and others in two notebooks, known as commonplace books. On first glance these excerpts, or commonplaces, seem random, but every commonplace book has an individualized organization behind it.

In this lecture, David J. Gary, Yale University, shows how an examination of these notebooks allows us to understand King’s fears, anxieties, and challenges as he looked at the world as a statesman and diplomat of the new and weak American nation. Why did King select the material in these commonplace books? 
How did he read Gibbon’s masterpiece? Why did he make such an effort to read this book during his busy diplomatic tour? Learn how King’s commonplace books reflect his desire to understand the quickly changing social, political, and cultural landscape wrought by the French Revolution.


King Manor Museum in Rufus King Park
Directions to this location



Event Organizer

King Manor Museum

Contact Number

(718) 206-0545

Contact Email


Education, History, Talks, Seniors

Additional Media

Directions to Rufus King Park

  • Rufus King Park

Was this information helpful?