“Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.” –Thomas Jefferson, Letter To Monsieur DuPont de Nemours, Washington, March 2, 1809, in The Life and Selected Writings of Jefferson, at 595 (Adrienne Koch & William Peden, eds., 1944).
From the Publisher: Though we most often think of Jefferson as president and statesman, he is also recognized, in the words of the late Dumas Malone, “as an American pioneer in numerous branches of science, notably paleontology, ethnology, geography, and botany.” In this fascinating book, Silvio Bedini, the acknowledged authority on Jefferson’s “supreme delight” in the sciences, explores his wideranging mathematical and scientific pursuits. Read more
From the Publisher: On March 7, 1808, President Thomas Jefferson received a long-awaited shipment of approximately 300 fossils from William Clark, who had just completed his westward expedition with Meriwether Lewis. The fossils were unearthed at Big Bone Lick in northern Kentucky, and over the years they had gained the interest of such prominent figures as Daniel Boone, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson’s receipt of the fossils was the realization of more than twenty years of the philosopherstatesman’s interest in the site and its natural treasures. Read more
From the Publisher: The uncovering in the mid-1700s of fossilized mastodon bones and teeth at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, signaled the beginning of a great American adventure. The West was opening up and unexplored lands beckoned. Unimagined paleontological treasures awaited discovery: strange horned mammals, birds with teeth, flying reptiles, gigantic fish, diminutive ancestors of horses and camels, and more than a hundred different kinds of dinosaurs. Read more
From the Publisher: Thomas Jefferson first became interested in fossil vertebrate remains in about 1780 while governor of Virginia. He was largely responsible for popularizing the subject and for preserving many specimens that would have otherwise been lost. Jefferson’s contributions to vertebrate paleontology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are discussed.
From the Publisher: In 1801, the first complete mastodon skeleton was excavated in the Hudson River Valley, marking the climax of a century-long debate in America and Europe over the identity of a mysterious creature known as the American Incognitum. Long before the dinosaurs were discovered and the notion of geological time acquired currency, many citizens of the new republic believed this mythical beast to be a ferocious carnivore, capable of crushing deer and elk in its “monstrous grinders.” During the American Revolution, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson avidly collected its bones; for the founding fathers, its massive jaws symbolized the violence of the natural world and the emerging nation’s own dreams of conquest. Read more