Thomas Jefferson & The Giant Moose – A Darwin Day event on 12 Feb 2014

Each year we mark Charles Darwin’s birthday with a special Café Scientifique event on Darwin Day. This year we have another special treat for you, with a talk by Professor Lee Alan Dugatkin of Louisville University. Prof. Dugatkin will share a fascinating tale from the intersection of natural history with the early history of the United States of America, specifically with one of the founding fathers of the nation.


Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose is a tale of both natural history and American history. What started out in the Revolutionary War era as an international dispute over natural history quickly took on important political overtones. The story revolves around three fascinating individuals. One of these characters — Thomas Jefferson — is known to every schoolchild. The other two characters1) the French Count and world-renowned naturalist, George-Louis Leclerc Buffon, who claimed that all life in America was “degenerate,” weak and feeble, and 2) a very large, dead moose—are less well known, but equally important to the story. Their interactions lay at the heart of an amazing tale in which Jefferson obsessed over a very large, very dead moose that he believed could help quash early French arrogance toward a fledgling republic in America, and demonstrate that a young America was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Despite Jefferson’s passionate refutation, the theory of degeneracy far outlived Buffon and Jefferson; indeed, it seemed to have had a life of its own. It continued to have scientific, economic and political implications for 100 years, and also began to works its way into the literature of the day, with folks like Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Washington Irving, Immanuel Kant, John Keats and Lord Byron entering the fray. Eventually the degeneracy argument died; but it did not die an easy death.

You can read more about this story in the book Prof. Dugatkin published on the subject in 2009. And join us for his presentation next month!

When: 12 February 2014, 7:00-8:30 PMDinner will be served from 6:00PM.

Where:  Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact:  559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family:

3 thoughts on “Thomas Jefferson & The Giant Moose – A Darwin Day event on 12 Feb 2014

  1. Just wanted to let you know I was disappointed with the new location of the Cafe. I went with two other people in January. When we arrived there was no place to sit and a line of 10 people ordering food. We left.

    I know we need to frequent the downtown area, but the walk down the mall in the dark was uncomfortable. I normally drive alone and meet friends. I would not want to walk there alone. I have nothing against downtown. I am downtown for lunch a couple of times a month.

    For the past two years, I have attended the Cafe most months. I am not sure if I will be in the future at Peeves. Really felt the separate room at Cafe Via was the best location.

    Alice Pawlik

    Sent from my iPad

    • Thank you for letting us know your concerns. We, and the pub management, clearly underestimated the size of our first audience upon return. The pub promises to reorganize their seating arrangements for the next event to make it easier for everyone to find seats. I also hope they will be make their food service more efficient. Let us see how it works out. As for downtown making you feel unsafe, we’ll have to think about possible ways to address that. We have moved around between a number of places in the past, and are trying this new place out right now. There is no single ideal location accessible or comfortable for everyone, so its a tricky thing to balance. Give us a chance to figure this out!

  2. Downtown Pedestrian Malls were are national failure, exactly for the reasons mentioned. They don’t support retail, so stores close, fewer stores equal fewer customers…pretty soon it’s dark and scary and only a few urban die-hards are there in support. This is the very reason that downtown property owners and businesses want to restore traffic, a move that has revitalized all of the cities who have made this move. Downtown will not be viable of vibrant until this happens. We do appreciuate the incredible support that we have had at Peeve’s. We are a new business, and those of you who have started a business will know, it takes us a while to have our feet under us. We rented 50 extra chairs and seating was better. We have a new flat screen for the back, but haven’t figured out how to split the signal yet. We’ll have that by next time. Our kichen will be better prepared for the flood of enthusiasts, it should have been better prepared last time. My responsibility, my apology. We appreciate your support and understanding. Craig

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