The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 344
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
American Philosophical Society, of which he later became presi-
dent, furnished additional stimulation to produce this great
study. This work covered not only the geography, boundaries,
rivers, mountains, cascades, and caverns of Virginia, but also
excursions of an aesthetic and intellectual character. He did not
limit his information to the bare bones of answers, but in his
description of rivers he gave data as to depth, length, navigability,
harbors, tonnage of ships that could sail their lengths, and ex-
tended his survey to the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois,
Hudson, and Lake Erie. He went into rhapsody over the Ohio,
stating, "The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its
current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smothe and unbroken
by rocks or rapids, a single instance only excepted." The largest
part of his Notes deals with mines, minerals, trees, plants, fruits,
Indians, and natural history in general. His description of the
Natural Bridge, which he owned and in which he had a natural
pride, is exquisite. "It is impossible," he exclaimed, "for the
emotions arising from the sublime to be felt beyond what they
are here; so beautiful an arch, so elevated, so light, and springing
as it were up to Heaven, the rapture of the spectator is really
indescribable." His descriptions are frequently illustrated with
maps, drawings, and diagrams.
At the time Jefferson entered into the controversial field of
science, the world was divided between two theories as to the
origin of the surface of the earth-the cataclysmic and the uni-
versal deluge theories. Jefferson rejected the deluge theory and
thus subjected himself to severe criticism by the religionists.
It was later charged that this belief was enough to bar him from
the presidency. It was repeatedly stated that the presidency was
no place for a philosopher and a scientist.
Jefferson completely refuted the pontifical opinion of Buffon
of France that the animals of the New World were generally
inferior to similar animals in the Old World-smaller in size and,
in general, degenerate in character. He sent skeletons and hides
of animals to Paris to prove the fallacy of Buffon's charge. He
proved that the mammoth was not a species of elephant and
that generally American animals were larger and heavier than
European. His countrymen were proud of his victory in this
controversy. Likewise, he proved that the theory of the eminent
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/390/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.