Thomas Jefferson and the Moose Part 2

Recap: 1780’s France VS USA: Who is physically superior ?

So Thomas Jefferson ran in the same Paris social circles with his friennemy Buffon and one night while dining at Chez Buffon, TJ decided to challenge his ridiculous claims that America’s moldy wetlands produced degenerate people and animals with a bold rebuttal. “You think America is inferior to France eh? Well you know what wise guy, we got Mooses so big that your pitiful French excuse for a Moose is small enough to walk under our big-ass Moose!”

F. Scalberge, Jardin du Roy pour la Culture des plantes médicinales à Paris (1636) © Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle
 

Being a man of science as well as politics, Thomas knew his mouth couldn’t write a check his ass couldn’t cash, so he set out to prove himself right. However measurements or descriptions wouldn’t suffice and he wanted tangible evidence; something he could literally shove in Buffon’s face to say “THY FICTITIOUS ALLEGATIONS ARE AS RIDICULOUS AS YOUR LOW PONY TAIL BETCH”.

For over a year and despite other preoccupations like the American Revolution and his role to muster support in France; Thomas almost obsessively sought his proof. He begged hunting enthusiast friends to send him a moose with specific instructions. NEED MOOSE: MAKE IT BIG! The Governor of New Hampshire finally pulled through and a 7-10ft moose was shot and shipped to France.

Excerpt of a letter from Jefferson to John Sullivan, taken from “Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose” by Lee Dugatkin

When its carcass arrived months later, the moose was rotting, wearing impostor antlers, and most of its skin gone. But a BIG ASS BIGGER THAN FRANCE MOOSE it was. We don’t know too much about Buffon’s reaction to the moose after he received it with a post it stuck that read KEEP TALKING SHIT AND I’LL SEND YOU BIGFOOT; he died shortly after.

Photo of a statue of Buffon at the Jardin des Plantes taken from their website

As for the moose itself, it seems to have disappeared, probably stuffed away somewhere in the vast caves of the Museum of Natural History of Paris. It is interesting to note that 250 years later, jokes on France for their reputation of having small stature. If you think about it, the only mega-fauna France is known for are giant rats and Gerard Depardiue.

If you are interested in learning more on this wacky but true subject (I only covered the surface), check out “Thomas Jefferson and the Moose” by Lee Dugatkin, click on the image here.

Special thanks to Lee for responding to my random message and sending me a signed copy of his fascinating book!

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