No bones about it!


I have to … congratulate you on the prospect you have of obtaining a compleat skeleton of the great incognitum [American mammoth], and [your having] zeal enough to devote himself to the recovery of these great animal monuments … whenever your skeleton is mounted, I will certainly pay it a visit.

Source: To Charles Willson Peale, July 29, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation

This leader liked BIG bones, the bigger the better.
Jefferson was interested in everything scientific! He had a particular interest in large bones to impress skeptical Europeans, who thought animals in America were inferior in size to ones on their continent.

Peale discovered this skeleton in New York and had retrieved enough bones to identify his find. The rest of the bones were still buried in a 12 foot pit full of water. Jefferson would order the Navy secretary to loan him a pump and tents to carry on his work!

Since Peale had already spent $300 on this project, needed financial backers. Jefferson wanted to be one but regretted the expenses of establishing himself in Washington City had put him under the greatest “pecuniary restraints” he had known. He hoped that situation would ease, allowing him to contribute before Peale no longer needed it.

This link contains a painting of the skeleton reassembled in Peale’s famous museum in Philadelphia.

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Originally posted at

The Moral Liberal Thomas Jefferson Editor, Patrick Lee, is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person leadership presentations as President Thomas Jefferson, Frontiersman Daniel Boone, and Lewis & Clark Co-Leader William Clark. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

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