The Roman Empire in a Hundred-Year-Old History Book

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, November 20, 1912:  Had an exam in General History and although I looked over it some last evening, I got some questions that I was unable to answer correctly.

Picture of Roman Fleet and Harbor in the the hundred-year-old textbook

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

What was the test on?

Well . . . <<<drum roll please>>>>. . . . Grandma might have been studying the downfall of the Roman Empire.

Here’s how I figured it out:

I found a General History textbook published in 1909. (I bet Grandma’s book was at least a couple of years old).  Since it’s  about one-third of the way through the school year, the class was probably about one-third of the way through the book.

Hmm. . .. the book’s 476 pages long, so a third of the way through the book would have been  around page 159. Page 159 is in a chapter titled,  The Decay of the Roman Republic and the Growth of One-Man Power.

The chapter begins:

Political and Social Conditions of Rome After the Punic Wars.—The republican constitution of Rome was made for the government of a small city state. When the great part of the Mediterranean countries fell under the sway of Rome, her municipal government proved quite inadequate for the task of ruling so vast an empire. The earliest political result of the foreign wars was that the senate assumed almost exclusive control of the government. The popular assemblies could not understand the difficult questions  of foreign policy, and were glad to leave their settlement to the senate, which was made up of experienced statesmen and generals . . .

Outlines of General History by V.A. Renouf (1909)

5 Responses

  1. You’re a good sleuth, Sheryl. Certainly have to be one with this family history/genealogy pasttime.

  2. Government difficulties, sounds so familiar.

  3. I love the way you search out such interesting tidbits.

  4. […] Grandma was sad because she got her General History test back and was unhappy about the grade. The previous day, she’d […]

  5. I think history exams are difficult. I never liked history until I was done with school :)

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