Thomas Jefferson: Monster Hunter
Monster House percents wants to talk is an independent podcast production of Monster House L._l._C.. You can show your support report by subscribing to our ad free extended episodes patriots dot com forward slash monster talk we want to grow our monster talk audience and the easiest way to accomplish that is for listeners to leave his five star reviews on iteens radius on I._T.. itunes is great but positive reviews a huge impact not only take a moment. Here's a bit of weird American political history in verse. This is about kept him meriwether Lewis and his famous Lewis and Clark expedition but it does make me ask asked this question if Lewis and Clark were looking for the northwest passage the why is this satirical verse making fun of the Captain for failing to find a woolly mammoth. Let's have a listen what marvel's on the way he found. He'll tell you if incline sir but I shall only now disclose the things he did not find Sir he never with a mammoth net however you may wonder not either with the mammoths bone above the ground are under so why was meriwether Lewis Looking for mammoth because you've been told to do so by the most powerful crypt zoologists in America Time President Thomas Jefferson Munster honor unlike anything we've ever seen before giant Mary alertness twenty four Mile Long Bottomless Lake highlands creature known as the Loch Ness Monster doll welcome to monster talk doc the science show about monsters. I'm Blake Smith and I'm Karen Stalls Ner in April Twenty nineteen. I was fortunate to be able to attend Joe Laycock in Natasha Nichols Academic Conference of God's monsters that Texas state in San Marcos us. I was there to present paper about patterns in monster flaps but it was also there to listen to many wonderful speakers talk about their research into monsters. The presenters came from a variety of disciplines and their topics of interests were quite quite varied as well. I heard discussions on Yeti. bigfoot vampires schools in a variety of other creatures the discussions were not just about the nature of the creatures themselves but also how cultures around the world incorporate the monsters into their legends folklore folklore ceremonies and beliefs. I was also privileged to have time to hang out and socialize with this ECLECTIC group of researchers. These are memories. I will always cherish and fortunately many of the speakers who I heard are also going to be sharing the research with this year on this show. We've already heard from one of them. Eric Mortenson who talked with us about the origins of Europeans concept of dragons out of a variety of traditions believe from Central Asia and from the Middle East and the upcoming interview we'll be hearing about the less well-known story of how Thomas Jefferson became a monster hunter to defend the dignity of this new nation from the insulting views of an influential French scientist before we hopped into that I want to remind listeners. There were now an independent podcast through my company Monster House L._L._C.. I'm proud to say we've already signed her. First advertiser. We'll begin dropping an ad soon a very serious about maintained the brand integrity of monster talk and only want to take on ads ads for companies whose products carrying and I really enjoy as a reminder. If you want an ad free extended content you can support a some patriotic at patriotic dot com slash monster talk our new patriots tears provide you with ad free content for as little as one dollars a month. If you're patriot listener wondering why including this in your show it's because I want to remind folks who are already supporting us Patriot on that you were automatically converted to monthly support for probably did not get put into the one of our new cool support fourteen years so please take a moment when you have time and make sure you're supporting us that the level you intend to so that we can get you the correct benefits when we get those setup we also have a lot of work to do around the next couple of months setting up a new website adding new art getting a new store with merchandise and we have some exciting announcements about new shows coming from the Monster House label so stay tuned big things are afoot but for now. Let's join Justin Mullah's I Thomas Thomas Jefferson themed more Dole. Justin welcomed the monster talk. Would you mind introducing yourself so my name is Justin Melissa. I M A scholar in the field of religious studies <hes> so so I graduated with my master's degree and religious studies from the University of North Carolina Charlotte in two thousand fifteen and then I taught in that same department there from <hes> two thousand sixteen to two thousand seventeen I am currently in the process assist of a p._H._d.. Applications of so looking for that next step <hes> and most of my academic work has involved the intersection of religion and popular culture <hes> and so my presentations presentations my published worked my classes have focused on <hes> sort of religion and <hes> notions of fandom specifically especially like science fiction Phantom but also like <hes> just it also the in the material of science fiction <hes> <hes> in of itself so and that's that is also was then sort of my entry point into <hes> some of my current work looking and writing about crypto zoology because <hes> <hes> I recently had an essay published <hes> on on the intersection of crypt zoology and science fiction for a book put out by Route Ledge called the paranormal and popular culture so brutal yeah so we're going to be talking about Thomas Jefferson today an interesting area if he's left but just for unknown American listeners is he the lead singer from Jefferson starship. He was Thomas Jefferson <hes> so Thomas Jefferson is one of our founding fathers in the United States so he was third president from he was our second vice president. He was our first secretary of state. <hes> he was also the author of the American Declaration of Independence so he was he was a pretty prominent important person in in the history the founding of the United States and <hes> as as I'm going to argue <hes> he's also really important in the history of crypto zoology too which is not one of his achievements that he's a he's usually recognized for yeah indeed. I didn't didn't know anything about this. Did you like not until her justice presentation so no now I did know about one tiny aspect of it. I remember watching among the it was Kim Burns did Lewis Clark documentary and they were talking about <hes> on the loose and Clark Expedition Jefferson was specifically asking Lewis Clark or to look for specific animal but I don't spoil that so <hes> will let let Justin get into that but no I was basically completely ignorant of this and my hope is that our listeners will also be somewhat ignorant and we'll be excited to learn you stuff. I mean I mean what we want to do as much as possible I think of <hes> our audience is like a giant coloring book and we're just coloring them in with science in history so <hes> in waiter I am. I don't know where that is coming from. That's probably Tequila so just this move on fresh. Okay I lost Thomas Jefferson have to do with cryptic zoology so yeah. This is not an aspect of Jefferson's life that is is I I would agree with you. Guys is it's not particularly well known <hes> which is not to say that has not been well documented that was one of the things that really surprised me about this when I started digging into it is that they're actually a lot of books and essays and and papers out there that talk about this but the kind of like Blake was saying they only talk about little facets of it and so what I really wanted to try and kind of put like this whole picture together about Jefferson's sort of crypto zoological logical career and and also just actually how important it was because this was not just some kind of like Lark he had on the side. I think that this is actually very instrumental to understanding Jefferson as a person and also <hes> it's instrumental to understanding branding his conceptualization of what America <hes> shouldn't and would become <hes> so to really though get into understanding the relationship between Jefferson encrypt zoology as I talked about right in my presentation you can't really start with Jefferson you have to start with <hes> another guy <hes> a very different person and that was a George Louis Leclerc <hes> who was also known as the count of Buffon and he he was a French <hes> scientist is basically a celebrity scientist. He was born in <hes> seventeen seven and he went to the University of angers. <hes> if I'm remembering that correctly yeah the University of anger is where he graduated in seventeen thirty two <hes> and almost immediately after he got out of college he was given a a job with the French Royal Academy of Science in their engineering department and then that immediately landed him a contract with the French navy <hes> working on redesigning their ships and because of ships were out of would at the time Jeff von decide that he needed to not only know everything there was to know about ships he need to know everything there was no about trees which meant that he they need to know everything there wasn't about plants which led to this new interest of his in botany which then eventually led to him also moving to the Botany Department at the Royal Academy of Science Science and then eventually <hes> just sort of this all <hes> encompassing interest in natural history and he was eventually appointed the curator of the Royal Botanical Gardens for King Louis the fifteenth and where this is ultimately going and how this all kind of ties together than in Jefferson is so that you know so so the points they are boo fons famous. He's a celebrity scientist right. I mean he's basically like noted across Tyson in powdered wig. He's incredibly influentual is incredibly important at this time in the in the early seventeen hundreds and his magnum opus is that he writes all by himself <hes> virtually thirty six volume encyclopedia called Natural History General in particular which he claims to be quote a true history of each thing <hes> so it's comprehensive pretty much his version of Cosmos only known TV. I know that's actually a really really good comparison because it is is like the cosmos of its time because that's the other thing is like a encyclopedia about natural history may not sound exciting but like everybody read this thing it was translated into multiple languages it sold out in the first six weeks of its initial printing like everybody everybody read natural history <hes> and and so that was really important because <hes> Boo fons natural history was really provocative. It was provocative for a lot of different reasons. It was provocative because he put put forth the first ever secular explanation for the origin of the earth <hes> he put forth <hes> a number of different theories he he introduced a lot of people to natural sciences that they weren't really familiar with but for our purposes what was also really provocative and really important about natural history was boo fonds theory of American degeneracy and here it will be important to preface so Boffon and his many years never went to America's right <hes> and but I didn't they didn't stop him from claiming he knew a lot about them. <hes> and what he knew about them was that basically the entirety of the America's were one big cold wet swamp <hes> which were full of just sad pathetic animals and people and as a result <hes> as far as befallen was concerned. Nothing good was ever. We're going to come out of the Americas of because of this right there. Animals were all vastly inferior to the old world's animals. There people were inferior to the old world's animals and there was this idea that as far as the colonists missed right were concerned day were going to to be equally degenerate right. You can't grow up around degenerate plants and animals and not be degenerate yourself was basically boo fons logic and this was this was a major problem him <hes> and Jefferson was the one out of the founding fathers who really realized this right <hes> because all the founding fathers really knew about BEF- on new about his theories and some of them like I mean <hes> Hamilton Hamilton and Madison took up there pins and and wrote counter statements against Buffon <hes> Benjamin Franklin who their stories about him when when he's in France as an ambassador kind of making wise cracks about how Oh boo fon says we Americans are so degenerate but look how tall and strapping are men are in this kind of stuff <hes> Jefferson's really the one who decided that who realized how big of a problem wasn't decided he needed to fight bef- on on his own terms which was in the realm of science one of the things I want to be clear about from the the Gecko here is that you know this is not a story about like who was right in who was wrong because we're gonna see I mean buffon was wrong about a lot of stuff in Jefferson was also wrong about a a lotta stuff and and they were both right about some things and that the other was wrong about and and vice versa but we might think today that this is kind of a ridiculous claim that Buffon when it made about you know America being basically just a big swamp. It's also not completely Lee ridiculous because if you think about it especially at the time a lot of what we knew about North America kind of confirmed that I mean certainly down south there swamps up north in places like New Jersey the pine in bearings there are swamps we admittedly built our our nation's capital ultimately in what was at one point swamp right now so and as far as the animals yeah I mean you know the animals that people had had a chance danced you encounter up to that point. The are wolves are dear etc.. <hes> certainly would not have seemed as impressive as sort of the old world stock and certainly did not hold a candle to anything like a you know the elephants elephants and hippopotamuses and lions of Africa so which would be or the Tigers of Asia right which would be something that people are thinking about here as well so Mu Fon has his reasons he's ultimately wrong and and this whole idea of degeneracy in general and especially how it relates to the colonists is is completely wrong headed <hes> but it's very influential as wrong ideas. Unfortunately often are <unk> are <hes> and that was one of the things that Jefferson realized because <hes> boof on was so widely read <hes> especially in his his home country of France that <hes> you know there were the it has has been shown as a historian <hes> fillet rozier has shown that <hes> you know you had a significant group of of <hes> French intellectuals who were opposed to France intervening in the revolutionary war because they basically thought they weren't going to get anything out of this right. I mean why do you WanNa go fight for a group of people who are living in a swamp with terrible animals. There's there's no reason for that. They just look at Google Earth. I don't understand it'd be easily. Sold does degeneracy at this time have the same sort of connotations that it does now is degeneracy an insult or just a just an irregular adjutant for Boo Fon. I think that it was probably an adjective active for some of Blue Fons <hes> followers and successors it was an insult <hes> because like you definitely find stuff where you have certain people kind of taking these ideas about befallen and basically writing like anti-american propaganda with it and and they take it to a much greater extent where they're saying things like you know if you bring adult to literally this is one claim that you see broad around right that if you bring a dog from Europe to America and you let it live in America Merrick long enough it'll stop barking because that's just how terrible America is. It'll drain the vitality out of the dog right so <hes> that that is an actual claim eight infringe anti-american propaganda for awhile among other things right like our cows don't produce milk. You know our men don't grow body hair. You know just all kinds of things right that you could you could think of none of these are fons claims and it's not clear that buffon necessarily endorsed endorsed these either though he certainly wasn't doing anything to stop people from making them so kind of scientifically supported these prejudices right exactly reminds me of aristotle where people tried to use pure logic without testing. It's this way is things were like people followed aristotle for years and then suddenly said why don't we actually count the teeth. Do these things make sense and they don't but I it it reminds me of that anyway. You have to bear in mind like the world boof on in Jefferson or born into right so they're in the eighteenth century so immediately preceding that is the sixteen hundreds and the sixteen hundreds is important in the history of natural history because really everything thing prior to that is sort of just <hes> data collection right. It's just people taking would ever been written before by Aristotle by whoever by plenty and just compiling it and just going okay yeah. This is what all of the the authorities have said about whatever topic and then in the sixteen hundreds you we have this really important revolution in the history of of science when you start actually getting sort of critical inquiry and people going we'll wait wait a minute. What if the authorities are wrong right and like so what if so so this is important for where this story is going to <hes> so for example <hes> since antiquity right people have on on occasion found really large bones in the ground and they didn't know what they were will? The traditional explanation for those bones was that they were of giants right. I the ideas that you know they're giants like from Greek mythology right the titans. The cyclops is that kind of stuff and then after the advent of Christianity they become the giants of <hes> of Genesis six right like the Neth limb and <hes> and this is this is the accepted explanation and the first time that you see really significant push back against that is in sixteen thirteen where you have these bones that are found in southeast France and <hes> you know all of this sort of learned kind of master surgeons of at the time you know look at these bones and and they go they're shipped to the University of Paris and the the the top dog scholars they are all look at them to go yeah more giant bones definitely giant bones and <hes> but in sixteen thirteen you have a pamphlet published anonymously era for the first time by a young <hes> you know up and coming anatomist who basically says you know hey guys <hes> these don't really look anything like the bones tons of people why why are we saying that these are the bones of giant people and <hes> I they actually kind of looking like elephant bone gets guys like maybe that's what they are you know and this kicks off <hes> actually about like a historian science Claude Cohen refers to it as a six year war <hes> intellectual war in France about the existence of giants <hes> but it's the first time that you see this idea like this kind of doctrine of monsters called into question and this will I have a direct impact on what like Jefferson and Mathon or doing in their own time because this kind of thinking doesn't go away <hes> and and what's important for Jefferson here right so oh to get to to sort of answer the original question you know what's Jefferson's connection decrypt zoology right. We'll Jefferson decides it has best way to refute BOO fawns allegations of American degeneracy right is to <hes> proven wrong by showing that America actually does have really really great animals like monstrous animals so he literally goes looking for monsters. That's his solution to to this problem. <hes> and it's also motivates him to write his <hes> his first book notes on the State of Virginia and it's when he's working on that book that he learns that in seventeen thirty nine a French explorer traveling down the Ohio River ever found a assault lick in what is today Kentucky and that there were these giant bones in it and Jefferson starts trying to to find out more information about these bones and what they could possibly be <hes> and he one of the things that he finds as one of the people he ends up contacting Ezra stiles who is the the president of Yale University and Ezra stiles tells Jefferson. Oh those are giant bones like that's. That's what we know right like. That's the tradition and Jefferson is kind of like just gobsmacked right. I mean this is this is now do exactly right. This is the president of Yale you know being like Oh yeah the bones the giants from bibles and Jefferson just like no no what there's got to be. There's got to be a better explanation for this so that's that's sort of that sort of the start of this for Jefferson right a he's some as background is lower and obviously in politics two was he actually doing this old lacquer armchair over the actually going on expeditions and Hanes on stuff so yes so Jefferson yeah so Jefferson's education has yet so he goes the College of William and Mary and he studies mathematics and philosophy and he but he also develops this really deepened abiding love for you know what they didn't have the term term then Beret Bo Bo we would today call science right of just like all all stripes <hes> and what is it. They caught natural philosophy. Is that the natural philosophy at the time yeah so or you know I mean if you had a more of a religious Bentos like natural theology you know so but yeah basically the study of nature and <hes> and Yeah Jefferson yeah he develops his very deep abiding love love for Science and Jefferson was was methodical. I mean you know this was not what this is important part of the story to right because I mean so far is basically a professional scientists right Jefferson is not Jefferson is a as a politician he works as a lawyer and then eventually gets involved in politics with the American revolution and becomes ambassador and and eventually Vice President President etc but you know he's he's not a slouch about this and so in in the case of <hes> of like these bones right so he finds out these bones are in Kentucky right there basically justly roading out of the ground round out this salt lick and so Jefferson wants to actually see them. He wants to look at them for himself. Now he doesn't go down to Kentucky because he's otherwise occupied but <hes> and this is a great part of the story <hes> so he gets somebody somebody to go get the bones for him and so the first person he dispatches his actually Daniel Boone the legendary frontiers. Who's who yeah what else do we know? We had a coon skin hat. That's right. I'm so one of the People's Daniel Boone one of the other people is this Guy General George Rogers Clark <hes> who was the commander army and the West and it's Clark who actually ends up agreeing to <hes> to go down there <hes> get a bunch of these bones gathered them up and ship them back to <hes> to Jefferson <hes> up north or up in Virginia sorry not north but yet will further north <hes> and Jefferson Jefferson and so Jefferson is able to to examine these bones for the first time and the thing that really strikes him about them is <hes> well so so not surprisingly one of the things that so he fiercely disagrees with boof on about them because bef- on I knew about these bones to write it had been a French explorer who had originally found them so fond of course knew about them and so the thing that really struck everybody about them was that there these huge bones and their teeth in there and so some of the teeth are clearly tusk's like those of an elephant right <hes> but the other thing are the molars right they have these mass dedicating teeth or what they called grinders back then and these are not like teeth that are found in in modern elephants and so there's so that's the first big mystery right because the assumption is that these are all the bones of one animal and so it's like well what kind of animal has both tusks and grinding grinding teeth because it's not any kind of animal that we know about and Buffon answer is actually. He thinks that you know they're probably not the same animal. He thinks they're two different animals. He thinks the tusks are those of an elephant and the teeth were came from from a hippopotamus Thomas Jefferson <hes> attacks Bussan over this conclusion in <hes> in notes the state of Virginia <hes> <hes> pretty hilariously actually because he just as very dry kind of you know <hes> sarcastic sarcasm really where he's just kind of like he's just like yes of course because we all know that the Hippopotamus <hes> at and the elephant always go the same place the elephant deposit it skeleton but never its teeth and the hippopotamus potter teeth but never it skeleton. I think he's funny because any kind of argument about skeletons around the dentation of any of these kind of pachyderms terms is is necessarily going to have to truncated but so Jefferson doesn't think that this is the answer. He doesn't think it's two different animals. He thinks it's got to be the same animal <hes> and so so yeah so he's looking at these teeth. He's doing measurements looking at the rest of these bones. He's trying to figure this out <hes>. He's not the only person somebody else that's also looking at. This is a Scottish anatomist William Hunter right who was <hes> the <hes> personal physician of Queen Charlotte at the time <music>. I'm he's also really interested in this and <hes> so an and hunter comes to this interesting conclusion because <hes> so so he he temporarily designates a name for this unknown animal and <hes> <hes> he calls it the incognito right which is lily just the unknown animal right so it's again it's kind of the the original cryptic right I mean it's literally like the unknown or the mystery animal <hes> and <hes> and hunter thinks because the masticated teeth he thinks that it's something like an elephant but it has to be carnivorous right because wiles would you have grinding teeth if not for you know like chewing up bones and getting adding to the marrow and that kind of stuff <hes> and and so he makes that connection and he also makes a connection to the bones like we mentioned earlier that have been found in <hes> in Europe right that were being found and in France and other places in the sixteen hundreds and at this point you know there is this competing idea that they are not the bones of a giants but that they are the bones of some kind of elephant tyne hind creature and <hes> people are starting to call it a a mammoth right. That's the term right. That's his big unknown animal at the mammoth <hes> and so this of course just all of this just excites Jefferson to no end right. I mean here is basically an American version of the mammoth but it's a carnivore right <hes> so this is exactly the kind of big fearsome monstrous animal that he's looking for so I guess at this point in history history science. It's curious. Do people understand how frigging long it takes to make fossils <hes> like I get the impression that they know fossils represent a record of real animals but do they understand the number of years that need to have gone by two fossils and I know even now that number is while the variable depending on the circumstances of the death of the animal but I I. I'm just wondering like what the theory was at the time or did you have a chance to look into that. If not I could look into that myself to the show notes no so there's <hes> so among among my many many resources for this. There's a really fantastic book that I recommend for for listeners that they haven't read it. <hes> which is a a Martin Ludwig the meanings of fossils which is just a history of fossil's right and <hes> and so one of the things is does that Jefferson's time. They actually still don't really understand what fossils are even right as far as Jefferson's concern to these are just bones <hes> they're not because it it hasn't been that long <unk> again. This is one of those things it hasn't been that long since people have stopped thinking that fossils aren't even organic remains right <hes> so because that that's a big thing in the sixteen hundreds as well are either you familiar with glossy Petra no but that sounds like the language of stone. It's so so yeah tongue literally means tongue stones okay there you go yeah so so this not not to make a tangent but this is relevant so glossy Petra tongue stones and what they are is the old term for sharks teeth but nobody nobody knew that they were sharks teeth right right you can go all the way back to like plenty and like plenty says that you know he talks about these strange triangular stones that you can find <hes> he thinks they fall from the sky on Moon Lewis Nights right. Nobody knows what they are but they there's this idea that they have sort of medicinal signal or <hes> medical properties to them and so people start collecting them all the way up through the Middle Ages. <hes> you know especially people in aristocracy who were worried about being poisoned because it was thought that if you had glossy oh Petra <hes> sort of weird tongue shaped stones that they would they would protect you and so the first time that this idea that you know they're sort of just these these were called at the time exports of nature right just these weird stones that were somehow made <hes> that kind of resembled things but weren't really those things was <hes> in <hes> in sixteen sixteen. You have a Italian lawyer. Fabio Colona and Colona actually gets hired by some of his clients who are the rich and they're like you know they wanna know whether or not these glossy Petra that they're you know expending money on to procure are really going to protect them from poison or if they're being scammed and and <hes> Fabio Colona <hes> does this really in-depth investigation into the glossy Petra and his conclusion that he comes to at the end <hes> is and I'm just is going to read the quote here because I think I paraphrase at nobody will believe me that he actually wrote this but he writes quote. Nobody is so stupid that he will not affirm at once at the first insight that these are teeth and not stones. It's you're seeing you see your stupid. Minds stupid stupid so Colona Colona comes out and says you know these are these are clearly teeth and he thinks that they're probably sharks teeth <hes> but nobody nobody really believes leaves him and it isn't until <hes> almost a little bit past the middle of of the century and sixteen sixty six <hes> nicholas stay know who is a <hes> Danish scientists and he he actually has a chance to <hes> he's the first person ever get to dissect a great white shark and he he writes up this whole paper I mean he's not the first human to see the inside of his shark. This is this is this is undoubtedly true she a he he gets dissect a great white shark and when he does he makes a very careful examination of the teeth and he's like yeah. Colona was right like these this is definitely glossy pitcher are they're just sharks teeth but they're sharks teeth that have somehow turn to stone and he's really staying though is really mystified by this. He can't figure out how this happens. He ends up in devoting a lot of his the rest of his life <hes> in his scientific career to trying to figure out kind of the process of fossils ation but this is still sort of an ongoing mystery by the time you get to like boof on Jefferson and and even if they're starting to have some ideas about how fossil ization works and those sorts of things they still also then the other part of this story that's really important is that fossil ization does not equate <hes> extinction in their minds right <hes> because that's that's the thing that's really important for Jefferson right is that he's looking at these bones. He's looking at this this potential creature the INCOGNITA him and Jefferson's not thinking that this is something that once lived in North America. He's thinking that this is something that currently lives lives in North America and he's so convinced that it does currently live in North America that when he publishes nozoe state of Virginia in seventeen eighty five he includes the incognito amongst the list of of extent fauna in in the country so you brought about papers at Jefferson didn't believe in extinction or he changed his mind later in life. You tell us a bit about that yes so I think this is actually a really really important part of this whole story so wrote Jefferson <hes> so Jefferson was a deepest and so for people who aren't familiar with that because it's not really a term that you hear much more <hes> deism was a <hes> a a religious belief if that emerged really in the late sixteenth century and France <hes> and sort of spreads you Europe in America in the seventeenth century and then came to exert <hes> a really powerful influence than during the the Eighteenth Century <hes> I'm at the time of the enlightenment and it was basically this idea that said that while God existed in was the author of creation <hes> that was it. You just stopped there right. He didn't intervene in <hes> in the affairs of creation. There were no miracles divine. Divine intervention is not a thing. You don't have to worry about God's wrath. You don't have to worry about what God wants you to do really in terms of morality. None of that stuff is is of real relevance <hes> so it's it's a belief that preserves that idea. Idea in the existence of God and sort of the creation of the universe but it doesn't have any of the kind of moral theological baggage that you usually associate with religion <hes> and it becomes really popular amongst a lot of <hes> of thinkers during Jefferson's time including Jefferson <hes> Franklin a lot of the founding fathers actually probably famously Thomas Paine he rides a whole book about at the age of reason which which is about as close as you get to kind of a a work of DEA stick <hes> proselytization. That's one of the reasons you don't really hear about D._S.. Anymore is that you know. They didn't really have that <hes> mandate to go out in proselytize and make more D._S._p.. Spray Evangelical not not so much thing exactly. It's interesting to me I mean I don't want this to sidetrack. You know we we typically avoid religion and politics on the show I think because has <hes> <hes> they seem to cause more vitriol and splitting of audiences than I like me. I mean I I think hone your critical thinking and that sort of thing you'll get your own conclusions but <hes> one of the things I find interesting is <hes> this this whole thing about devious around this time. It seems like one of the main reasons that they were holding on to the idea of a God that just sort of kicks things off it is that they didn't have an explanation for how we get the complexity of life and so when Darwin's theory of natural selection as being sort of <hes> <hes> what is the blind watchmaker behind you know the sort of diversification species comes along it finally fills in gap. It's the missing piece this needed so when people are willing to take survey theistic stance before Darwin. It's a much bigger leap. It seems <hes> <hes> then after but that that may just be my take anything in your research <hes> confirm matter in my way off track there. I know I mean it's pretty controversial I mean and so I and and just declare deism. Is You know again. It's it's not atheism right right right. <hes> there are some historians who think that boof on in all probability was an atheist so because like I mentioned engine before in his his not encyclopedia of natural history he puts forward what is the first ever like secular explanation for the creation of the Earth which is also actually relevant to his <hes> sort of his theory of degeneracy because his ideas that basically the earth and the other planets <hes> so he thinks befallen thinks that the sun is probably a massive ball of burning metal and so he thinks that at some point little chunks of metal kind broke off from it and that they eventually were caught you know in its orbit and then cool down over time and that the that's what became the earth and and the other planets and Buffon sort of tests this he gets balls of iron and he heats them up you you know till they're they're white hot and then he watches how long it takes to them to cool and he does the math and extrapolates it out <hes> and and so that's actually one of the most provocative part of natural history <hes> because as it gets <hes> it gets him into a lot of trouble with the ecclesiastical authorities in France at the time because he's proposing this idea of the creation of the earth that doesn't involve any kind of of Deity and also because his calculation says that <hes> if this is the way the Earth was made it is way older than six thousand years so 'cause he's like you could not cool ball of iron the size of the Earth <hes> in six thousand years you know because it math yeah yeah because as a man so yeah so you know so both boof on an Jefferson in a sense are kind of on on the fringes of what is accepted in terms of of religion broadly and so is so as Thomas Paine in everything I mean even Thomas Paine Yo goes to will later go to France during the French revolution and stuff and end up getting thrown into the best deal at one point because of his having ridden age of reason right. I mean like they do not take kindly to due to like distortive like dea stick <hes> notion so yeah they're they're not they're not mainstream in their religious beliefs necessarily but a across the board regardless is at one idea that is really not acceptable. Is this the idea of extinction right regardless of where you're coming from because if you're if you're a more sort of Orthodox Christian believe or at this time you don't believe in the idea of extinction because it flies in the face of the idea of God's <hes> benevolence that's right like why would God allow any part of his creation to be blighted out in its entirety right you know and for Jefferson his issue isn't so much of that as much as it is <hes> that you know he's he's thinking about the universe as sort of again that kind of like watchmaker argument right that this is a machine that is so finely tuned that if you pull one gear or cog out of it the whole thing's GonNa stop working so you can't have you can't have species going extinct so so did he suffered any consequences for his perspective <hes> in in America rule <hes>. Is there any kind of pushback against fuse so as far as I know and I may I may be mistaken about this. I'm not aware of there being pushed back that Jefferson ever got <hes> <hes> you know as far as like did his deism ever damage <hes> like his political career or anything not that I'm aware of which is at is kind of amazing when you think about it like I don't know if I mean I certainly don't think we could elected de Nowadays today's <hes> but interestingly enough you know which is sort of jumping ahead in the story <hes> towards the end of Jefferson's political career his <hes> his crypto zoological pursuits did come back to kind of bite fight him a little bit so Jefferson may not have gotten a negative impact from his deism but Thomas Paine did Thomas Paine got like really nailed towards the end of his life he was basically treated <hes> as a pariah and even though he was instrumental in his his his writing was very instrumental in the <hes> sort of setting up of America's government ideas but by by the time he died because of his deism specifically because <hes> of his writing which seemed to advocate if not for atheism certainly from a purely rational view of a rudderless universe. Nobody's driving <hes> he he only had six people attend his funeral <hes> which is it is not because nobody knew he was is because they did no he was and they really i. They didn't want to be seen as supporting him. which is <hes> yeah? The world's changed so yeah so Jefferson basically gets to <hes> a a war but he intellectually he wants to prove that America is not degenerate. He wants to show boo phone that America has <hes> very robust life animal forms. So how does he approach that. What does he do to try to make the the case so he does a couple of different things so so he's really interested in this incognita right is unknown animal and so he starts trying to build a case that this thing exists right <hes> you know that that is somewhere out there in the unexplored Lord American interior there so there's really so much of North America we haven't explored the whole thing? We are non a position to say what isn't isn't isn't is not out there. <hes> so that's one thing that he goes back to again and again <hes> throughout throughout his his life in his career <hes> when making this argument the other thing that he does <hes> which <hes> just which has a really close similarities to something that modern day crypto zoologists are still doing is that <hes> Jefferson all starts basically compiling native American legends to that he thinks are about this incognito right so in particular at some point point it and this is a little fuzzy because it's not not nobody seems to know exactly win. This happened but it was sometime between seventeen seventy five and eighty one jefferson meets up with a delegation of <hes> <hes> warriors from the Delaware tribe and <hes> they tell him this legend that they have about the big buffalo which is supposed to be this giant creature who at one point basically is just sort of rampaging across the country just killing all animals destroying native American settlements and it gets so bad that sort of supreme deity comes down and basically slaughters off <hes> this race of the big buffalo except for one big bowl that's left and <hes> according to to the Delaware this bull <hes> eventually fleas <hes> off into into the American interior and so Jefferson sees this again as positive evidence that these sorts of creatures <hes> exist again. He doesn't believe that they've actually all been like slaughtered and there's only one of them because he doesn't believe in extinction in this is clearly you know divine intervention <hes> here in this legend but he you know he he cherry picked the parts of the legend that he likes <hes> and use it as as part of his argument and those are both things that you still see in contemporary crypt zoology right there hallmarks this argument of you know well. There is unknown in country out there where all kinds of weird creatures could be hiding. We haven't fully explored it and so we don't know what's out there and then there are legends about monsters and those legends have to be based on something <hes> legitimate so and and Jefferson does this not only with the INCOGNITA M- <hes> you know later on in Jefferson's life <hes> you know he becomes a around the time that he's he's vice president. He also becomes the President of the American Philosophical Society which is the former scientific organization in the in the U._S.. At that time and <hes> in seventeen ninety six he gets sent another box of bones this this time from greenbrier West Virginia <hes> from from a different a military person that he has a sort of in his his circle of contacts and Jefferson examines all of these bones that he sent and comes conclusion that they're the bones of giant lion he names it mega onyx or giant claw <hes> and he ends up writing and presenting a paper about this for the American Philosophical Society <hes> which has one of those great eight long winded titles that used to get back in the day it was a memoir on the discovery of certain bones of quadrupedal Claude kind in parts of Virginia. Would they preach his disproved in Jefferson's lock time or did he die still believing in some of these creatures so yes so what ends up so with both the <hes> incognito in the mega bionics what ends up happening with both of those creatures which Jefferson supports through the bones through through there being unexplored areas of of North America through native American legend through traveller's tales he marshalls all of this kind of stuff Jefferson will publish his meg alon ix payments seventeen ninety nine which is the year after he presents it and <hes> when he publishes it he opinions this note to the end pointing out that he may be wrong about the lion thing because he's learned that there have been similar bones found in Argentina and that a different French scientist George Cuvee who's often regarded as the father of paleontology <hes> but what more important <hes> for our purposes <hes> George Cuvee is also the father of the signs of comparative Anatomy and Cuvee a looks at these bones from Argentina and determines that they're actually the bones of a giant sloth and cuvee is also the one who will get a hold old of the the incognito bones and will eventually realized that they are the bones of a <hes> <hes> unknown or es extinct type of prehistoric elephant which he will dubbed the Mastodon and no it's not carnivorous avarice right so so in a sense Jefferson's both of both these monsters for Jefferson do get disproven in his lifetime <hes> he holds out for a really really long time I think <hes> as blake kind of alluded earlier you know by the time he becomes president. <hes> you know one of the first big things at Jefferson does will two years into his presidency right as he does the Louisiana purchase and expands the size of the American territory and then he dispatches Lewis and Clark to go explore it and he gives them explicit instructions to look for a mastodons John's and mega theorems in the American Interior <hes> so and this is this is actually one of the sort of like top five things he tells them to do right <hes> so yeah he <hes> and <hes> and of course they don't find any they've they find lots of you know amazing animals and plants and contact you know many different tribes and some of the stuff when you read <hes> Louis Clark's journals and notes. It's you know or are certainly really weird because there's stuff in there where they talk about finding at one point like they're out in the the American a wes brown was it would be like Utah <hes> or or Kansas and they talk about like finding the backbones of giant fish sticking by the ground while today we know that those were like Moses sores you know but they don't know what that is at the time so there is there's there's some neat stuff in there but they don't find any living prehistoric animals animals this surprise me I wrote this down question for you because I he spent a lot of time looking for a really large specimen of Moose but why why not go with grizzlies good Lord those are impressive. I mean that I know Lewis Clark ran into a lot of grizzlies. I remember watching that that documentary about that was a undaunted courage. I think is what it was called. The book Stephen Ambrose. I think <hes> I read the book and I watched the Kim Burns documentary about losing Clark and I. There's that funny thing where they're they're talking in the log entries. He's like you know honestly we're we've had enough of these grizzlies. You know is really understated but like grizzly bears are they're pretty bad ass like what do they have in in Europe to compare what what what I mean sure is not an elephant but good grief. A grizzly bears plenty good enough isn't it. It's like so there's there's two things about that right so I mean I I kinda skipped over the Mousse thing which is a really important part of this story because so so undoubtedly part of the reason why Jefferson doesn't use grizzly bears once Lewis and Clark finds them is because also I think towards this point in Jefferson's life in his career you know and especially now that he's into his presidency and stuff. This isn't as big of a concern for him <hes> anymore in some ways and of course the other thing is <hes> that boof on by this point has has passed away boo fon dies in seventeen eighty eight right <hes> and in Jefferson did have a chance to meet him right. That's the other really interesting part of this story. Is You know Jefferson is eventually appointed ambassador to France and while he's in France he is furiously writing various people in contacts that he has back in back in the United States <hes> and pleading with them to basically catch him giant Moose and I mean like giant <hes> he wants a moose. That's like twelve feet at the shoulder. You know <hes> which I mean they don't get that big that we know of Yeah Yeah uh-huh yeah I mean he won't he wants a giant Musso. There's there's a great book about this by Leeann Dunkin Call Jefferson and the giant moves right <hes> which is all about Jefferson sort of obsessive you know desire hiring all these kind of contract hunters and people to to go out there and bag him this moves because he basically wants to have this thing ship to France and he has this this dinner that he's been able to secure with boof on and and you know his his desires apparently this show about this dinner and throw this like Moose Carcass Boo fons face and be like you know look look look how big an impressive our animals are <hes>. He's he's never able to really they do that. He has to settle for <hes> he and he purchased a cougar skin and a haberdashery <hes> literally like a few hours before he left for for France and he ends up giving that to fon and apparently Boffon on his actually rather impressed by it. He's actually surprised how big <hes> this cat is. You know that lives in <hes> in in America and Jefferson goes on about how fierce cougars are which Boffon had had written in natural history that they were pretty. Pretty wimpy animals <hes> so you know and and Jefferson sees this as sort of tantamount to kind of like you know sort of first successful like checkmate here in this intellectual competition with with Bu Fon on <hes> you know but still wants he still wants this Moose and you know eventually he will be he will be shipped one his his people eventually bag in one in like seventeen eighty seven and they ship it off to Jefferson he he gets it <hes> like a year later in seventeen eighty eight and he has it sent straight away to boof on with a note attached to it basically apologizing that it's only seven feet tall but assuring him that moves get much bigger <hes> you know but but within six months of what we don't even know on ever saw this thing <hes> I've I've seen some claims that Buffon did see it and that it was so poorly like taxidermied that it was actually kind of like rotting and smelled and Buffon Fund had his people get rid of it. I'm not sure if that's true that story might be Apocryphal <hes> because it's also possible that before never even saw it because at this point he was he was pretty old. He was pretty ill <hes> he died. Six months after Jefferson's Moosewood have shown up on his doorstep so <hes> and then but he never he never renounced his claim of American sort of zoological inferiority either you know so <hes> you know he held onto that the idea you know really to to the very end <hes> but yeah so definitely by the time Jefferson has Lewis and Clark out there looking for <hes> mammoths and giants loss and stuff he <hes> you know I mean certainly I'm sure probably the discovery of the Grizzly and things delighted him but <hes> they weren't. They weren't things that he could show <hes> you know Chou show to John and the other thing about that is <hes> is that what that also it would also relates to is sort of a <hes> Blake's other point also by that time Boo fons ideas of American degeneracy were really had really been refuted by <hes> <hes> actual sort of qualified scientists which was Alexander von Humboldt and Jefferson and Humboldt were friends. They really admired each other. They apparently spent a week together in Washington. In eighteen zero four <hes> you know but Humboldt traveled all over <hes> both <hes> north and South America and made really thorough accurate documentation of what the actual flora and fauna in in the Americas were and <hes> you know that work did a lot more to you know refute coupons ideas of American degeneracy than basically any of Jefferson sort of posturing or monster hunting so you know I mean in a way it's there's there's a I think there's a version of this story where you could look at this. As being maybe a little bit sad ad in the sense that you know Jefferson you know he he has this this <hes> this aim to sort of prove how great North American you know fauna is but he becomes so preoccupied with looking for you know these these nonexistent or extinct animals that you know he kind of ends up ignoring. I guess possibly you know like the real <hes> animals and plants that are out there that could have made his case for them. I mean that certainly <hes> Humboldt uses just to make make the case eventually the we all at least agree that worry he alive today Jefferson would really enjoy Godzilla so I think that he was basically looking for Moose skied you. Can we talk just a little a bit more about the fossil that Jefferson miss identified as a cat yeah the the mega theorem yeah yeah the so that's GonNa it's relevant because I completed an interview interview about the actual identity <hes> so we did. I talked to a paleontologist and have that I'm trying to decide whether I should put your ups it out I or the giant slot episode out but those animals are amazing amazing and so for for Jefferson to MS identified as a cat even though he's wrong about what it was it doesn't diminish the magnitude of this amazing big animal mega theory or the North American variation Asian is mega bucks. I mean that's how you know. BINOMIAL nomenclature works right Jefferson named it first so even though he was wrong about what kind of animal it was it still actually mega law knicks <hes> today but yeah I mean Jefferson thought that it was a lion and and you know he thought it was the the seven foot tall two thousand pound lion which I it wasn't it was a giant ground sloth and Jefferson did eventually come to to realize that except that he still thought it might be alive out there in the American Interior <hes> you know but and Saint Louis and Clark looking for it yeah but <hes> you know it it is interesting though because yeah you're talking about. <hes> I forget what they're called right. What's the <hes> the cryptos spoiler other mapping Guarini is the folklore animal <hes> that I I don't want to spoil this because Allen unfold all that and the other episode but <hes> basically the full? There's this folklore animal call mapping quarry which somewhat maps closely to the mega theory him <hes> giant sloth animal like some of the characteristics of this folklore animal are very similar to this extinct animal and so in the classic sort of Christmas Wallasey wants an extinct animal to actually have extant population still around out there. It's that that's the connection has been made and we'll talk about that and that that other episode but I I thought it was really interesting how that it has all these parallels to this Jeffersonian approach which which in conjunction with your paper completely I think supports the hypothesis or the premise that Jefferson was an early crypto zoologist. You know maybe there wasn't as much established science around what animals were really alive which were extinct or how to fossils form you know the times off. There's a lot of things that are missing but he saw evidence for this massive animal and he wanted to defend his country against this insult that he saw from Europe and one really great way to do that would speed proved the point but you know produce a body so in that sense. He's literally doing what most groups as well just want to do. There's a story there's some evidence. Let's go prove it right. I Yeah I think Jefferson's methodology is dead on. I mean he is using the methodology of of a crypto zoologist and what he's doing and what's also really really interesting is that a lot of the creatures at Jefferson was looking for still exist <hes> to a certain degree in the crypto zoological literature right I mean they they definitely don't have the prominence of <hes> of like big foot in the Yeti the loch ness monster and and what have you <hes> nowadays I think but you know I mean a whole Romans talks about you know both the idea of surviving mammoth and surviving arriving mega theorems in on the track of unknown animals <hes> and <hes> one of the things that I found that was really interesting is that there are still actually <hes> reports of cryptic a giant Moose as well <hes> in Massachusetts Maine Vermont so <hes> Lauren Coleman has ran about that in his book monsters Massachusetts so he calls them the spectral Moose <hes> and there's there's another entry that I found in a Joseph sits rose the Vermont Monster Guide was for the King Moose so <hes> and what's really interesting. I am still thinking about the rat king only with Moose uh-huh horrified yeah so quick people who get the joke avenue. Look it up. Wreck kings are win. A lot of rats get tied together by their tails kills become come nodded and so you get this sort of riding massive rats. WHO's mobility is limited in there? They get quite hungry as pretty nasty so yeah Justin Dino if he jefferson continued interest in this topic throughout this whole lot voted he once he had the president's he just kind of up on on Mason moved onto other areas Jefferson Jefferson maintained an interest in science throughout his his entire life <hes> and <hes> all the way up through through his presidency. <hes> you know he apparently had an entire room in the White House set aside that he filled with taxidermied animals and fossil fossil bones and all kinds of things <hes> he kept writing about this on the side he he kept working on it and like I alluded to earlier this was something that actually ended up having a certain degree of political liability <hes> <hes> and so what it was was so in eighteen zero nine when Jefferson's getting ready to <hes> you know end his his time as president. He's trying to make sure that his friend and fellow <hes> democratic Republican James Madison is going to get elected elected in <hes> in his stead and <hes> and so the the opposition party at that time is the federalists and they actually put out sort of the nineteenth century equivalent of a political attack ad <hes> which is a poem which is so much more classy than political attack ads today <hes> but they do they publish this poem where they basically <hes>. Tell Jefferson like you know you know. Look you know you you need to get out of office. You need to take a hike <hes> and just go do what you're good at which is digging around and swamps for giant frogs and looking for big bones and not trying to run the government because you're terrible at it and Madison is going to be terrible at it too so don't vote for Madison you know so yeah so so yeah it doesn't up having a little bit of political liability for him towards the end of his life the the other interesting thing that I've found <hes> that I'm I'm still trying to work out exactly on speaking of sort of political liability encrypt zoology. <hes> is is also the embargo act so you know in eighteen seven Jefferson passes this thing called the embargo act where <hes> he forbids American ships from trading in foreign ports and he does this because he's he's trying to punish Britain and France for interfering with American trade while the two countries were at war with each other and this ends up being a really <hes> unpopular policy because it obviously has really detrimental the mental effects on the U._S.. Economy and it turns out that one place that was really really badly affected by the embargo act was a glouster Massachusetts so and if you're a crypto zoology elegy fan that name should ring a bell because that's the place that just a few years after Jefferson's death is going to become just a hotbed for sea serpent sightings and the connection here which is something thing that was pointed out by W Scott Pool <hes> <hes> is the fact that <hes> during the time of the embargo act there are a political cartoons published in glouster newspapers where people are basically saying you know we would rather have our ports filled with sea monsters then Jefferson's policies and I've I've talked to Scott about about this via email and he is said so not not to misrepresent his position he does not he is not suggesting that <hes> that this that this somehow lead people to see see see serpents <hes> but I'm not so sure that it didn't person yeah I think this I'm more and more inclined to think that priming has more power than people realize but yeah yeah. I think that there is <hes> I think that's a really intriguing <hes> kind of connection there that you know you you basically have this this kind of rhetoric and that it you know shortly thereafter you do have <hes> you you know actual than sea serpent sightings just explode in and around glouster Massachusetts and the other interesting connection about that is that there's been some work done by <hes> <hes> marine biologist R._l.. France who has argued that you know the glouster sea serpent sightings and some other very famously serpent sightings from around that time were the result of <hes> animals <hes> he thinks mostly turtles but also possibly Wales does being trapped in a fishing nets <hes> and I and I think that that's really interesting because it also relates into this kind of larger picture about you know Jefferson being resistant like a lot of people asked I was not just Jefferson being resistant to this idea of extinction and not realizing what extinction is and the ramifications of it and especially then that extinction in in can can be man made right because you know at the same time that Jefferson you know is is denying the validity of extinction. You know you are having the I sort of real historical examples of things like steller ehlers see cow and the Dodo and the Great Auk while the Great Auk will be later. That's Darwin but you know but you start having these these things where you have actual human extermination of animal populations and so then to kind of also think that there's this sort of link between Jefferson Sea serpent sightings and the idea that what these sea serpent sightings could've possibly been is <hes> animals <hes> struggling with our garbage in the ocean is I think all really it kind of interesting so I guess leads us to a question. You probably should be so justin your listener of the show you know what I'm GONNA ask next. What's your favorite monster so that's that's a really it's a really easy answer for me? which is <hes>? It's Godzilla yeah. No I mean if I if I'm I'm being I I mean it shouldn't even be a debatable issue because yeah I mean like that's you know I have a lot of general broad wide reaching monster enthusiasm but in terms of just monsters dad have had a large impact on my life life and that I've spent a lot of time with it definitely it has to be it has to be Godzilla. I love those movies so we're the only presenter at that conference to dress as Godzilla for your talk that was on. I should know that did I was this the wrong approach really interesting and I had no idea about this topic at all so I think this is going to be a popular talk said well. Just thank you so much Karen. Thank you so much. Your patience has always <hes> golly how much I was yeah. This is an honor so I mean honestly. This is a little bit of a bucket list thing so good good well now. You've seen how we mean soup so fun. Peaking behind the curtain turbulent disorganized why the editing is so important yes not doing it live right warminster doll. You've been listening to monster talk. The science show about monsters. I'm Blake Smith and I'm Karen Stole Sner today. You heard a discussion with just a Mullah's about Thomas Jefferson. Listen Monster Hunter Justice presentation will hopefully be available along with some other papers from the of God's in monsters conference. If all goes according to plans but for now you can check out the show notes at Monster Talk Dot Org I of additional reading reading suggestions round this topic you could also find Justin in the much talk facebook group where he's a frequent contributor stopped by say hi and if you WanNa hear more about mega theory him the giant slot that we talked about in this episode please check out our previous show number one ninety four with paleontologist Dr Richard for Inya which is all about these magnificent extinct creatures. 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