Thomas Jefferson UFOs

Close Encounters of the Third President

By R.A. Rajotte

Durring the War of 1812 a bizarre report of an aerial phenomena that some say was a UFO was dispatched to Thomas Jefferson. The sighting was reported by a Virginia Tavern Keeper and a friend in 1813, the tale may be a tad tall, and could possibly be embellished by the tavern keepers plying of his trade with his co-witness.

The bartender Edward Hansford and his client / friend was John Clarke, they describe a meteor like object blazing through the heavens. It's initial appearance was that of your run of the mill meteor, however as the men watched, it began to change. First it morphed into what they interpreted as the shape of a turtle which they described as "agitated and as frequently obscured by a similar smoke."

From a turtle it assumed the 'shape of a human skeleton' which rose and fell rapidly. From a skeleton it grew to resemble what the viewers interpreted as a heavily armed 'Scotch Highlander', the assumption being they were referring to a Scottish man not a bottle of Scotch.

Whether or not Jefferson replied to this bizare letter is uncertain, according to the website Monticello, it 'is perhaps the earliest recorded observation of a UFO.' What the website fails to take into account however is that Thomas Jefferson may have himself witnessed a UFO a decade earlier and published his account of it in 1801.

Text of Letter to Thomas Jefferson about UFO Sighting
1800 Baton Rouge UFO letter

On April 5, 1800 over Baton Rouge, Louisianna an unusual aerial phenomena was witnessed by a number of people known to Vice President Thomas Jefferson. In all likelihood what Jefferson and the people of Baton Rouge witnessed was little more than an exceptional meteor crashing to Earth. But UFO enthusiasts, myself included, salaciously want to believe it was something more.

Jefferson was impressed enough by the incident that he communicated the Baton Rouge sighting to William Dunbar of the American Philosophical Society, Dunbar was an investigator of natural phenomenon in Louisiana. Jefferson was president of the American Philosophical Society at the time. His UFO encounter was published in the Transactions publication, basically a newsletter of the Society.

The object being hurled through the sky is described as being 'as big as a house' and and 'wholly luminous but not emitting sparks', sparks being a tail or firey emission as would be expected from a meteor. Jefferson describes its luminosity as 'resembling the sun near the horizon in a cold frosty evening,... a crimson red.'

Jefferson's report of the Baton Rouge incident leaves many unanswered questions, and the report that has survived to the current day is missing key elements, namely the imagery which his writings allude to. There are no accompanying plates known today although the text refers to there being several drawings depicting the object.