latin quarter, Maps

Thomas Jefferson and The Moose Part 1

During the age of Enlightenment in the later half of the 18th century, America- the newly budding country full of savages, rebel colonials, and prudes- was regarded with doubt and suspicion by OG Europe.

In an obscure side note of Ridiculous History, a pre-presidency Thomas Jefferson assumed the responsibility of defending the honor of his country, to a somewhat comical degree, in one of the earliest acts of American Patriotism. While serving as American Ambassador in Paris during the mid 1780’s- he became obsessed with proving France wrong in the argument of who was.. bigger.

Jefferson. Moose. Buffon.

Today American may be known as the land of Super-Sized everything; food portions, houses, PEOPLE, but in the 18th century, there was a widespread belief that things in the new world were… weak, feeble, and physically inferior.

Rigobert Bonne and Guilleme Raynal’s 1780 map of North America

George Louis Leclerc, Compte of Buffon as well as scientist, naturalist, mathematician, and Boss Man of the king’s royal garden (today the Jardin des Plantes) wrote in his highly influential 36 volume Natural History Encyclopedia that due to its excessive swamp land and muggy climate; everything in America- from its soil, to its plants, to its animals, even the native Americas living there- were degenerate; smaller and weaker than their European counterparts.

He even went as far as to claim that those who decided to live in the New Word, would damn their future bloodlines to be as degenerate as their livestock! When Thomas Jefferson heard of this ballsy claim, he called bullshit. Trash Talking Buffon had never even BEEN to America! Jefferson knew he had to stand up for his beloved baby country but how was he to prove America was not the degenerate wasteland Buffon made it out to be from France?


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