Count Georges-Louis Leclerc Buffon popularized a European theory about North America that everything, including the people and the animals, were inferior in both size, strength and intelligence. Jefferson hated this so much that he made it his goal to change the Count’s mind, hoping he would recant his statements. He began hunting for the biggest animals he could find. He sent Buffon a cougar pelt and mastodon fossils, and when that didn’t impress the Frenchman, Jefferson decided he was going to mail him a moose. A giant moose. He immediately wrote his friends, and the governor of New Hampshire sent a behemoth of a moose to Jefferson.
The two-week journey really did a number on the moose. The body started to rot, and the antlers disappeared. Luckily the governor had included antlers from a deer, an elk and a caribou as replacements. Jefferson sent it to Buffon, telling him to picture it with more fur and bigger antlers. Before Buffon could publicly go on record saying he was wrong, he died. The theory lived on for 70 more years. Hey, at least Jefferson tried.