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Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia

In this report on the North American environment, Jefferson made a number of careful observations regarding indigenous American plants and animals, revealing his curiosity about the territory west of the Mississippi. He also writes about the possible existence of giant carnivorous mammoths in that little-known territory. The future President noted Indian testimony that these animals existed and European travelers’ reports of fossilized skeletons of “unparalleled magnitude.” If the animal existed, he believed it was probably roaming the far West. “He may well exist there now,” Jefferson wrote.

The Newberry's copy is the first edition of Jefferson’s Notes was printed in Paris while Jefferson was ambassador to France. The Newberry's copy is inscribed to fellow diplomat John Jay, a future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Thomas Jefferson. Notes on the State of Virginia; Written in the Year 1781, Somewhat Corrected and Enlarged in the Winter of 1782, for the Use of a Foreigner of Distinction, 1782 [i.e 1785].

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