How Thomas Jefferson Probably Smelled


Photo by Aaron Fulkerson

In honor of Independence Day, I thought I’d write a post that has to do one of our beloved founding fathers. The time has com to finally explore a curiosity I think has been on a lot of people’s minds for quite some time. Mine especially. I’ve been losing sleep over it, if you want to know the truth. I was tossing and turning in my bed last night trying to work this one out.

What’s been on my mind? Simple. I’d very much like to know how Thomas Jefferson smelled. Ah, I bet I’ve already got you hooked. It’s a rush to think about. A harmless enough question on the surface, but check it out—there are just so many variables that you have to first take into consideration. This ain’t a straightforward hypothetical here. Thomas Jefferson lived in a very different time. For instance, in Thomas’s day there was no Ladies’ Speed Stick or Axe Body spray; no central air conditioning; no Whirlpool energy-efficient washing machines.

Consider, too, that Thomas Jefferson was a very important man with major responsibilities. His decisions would impact the future of the free world. His decisions could have gotten him and his compatriots hanged. He had a lot on his mind. It’s reasonable to assume Tom’s priorities were quite different than the average man of his day. Could all of this impact the way he smelled? Would it not make him smell a bit different than, say, the gentleman sitting next to him at the place where you buy the wagon wheels?

Not to mention that men in the 1700’s had very different rules of civility than we do nowadays. They looked upon the act of passing wind a lot differently than we do today. I have no real evidence to back this up, but it just sort of seems like it’s true. It just feels right, you know? They were so much nastier back then then we are today. They probably belched out loud in public too. Ate a huge leg of lamb at the local water hole, then opened wide and let one loose. That was normal. People back then just weren’t as uptight as they are nowadays.

Other factors to consider: there were horses instead of cars, which of course means a lot more cases of accidentally stepping in horse droppings (and keep in mind there was no such thing as Handy Wipes in the 1700’s). Men used to wear wigs back then, which required powders and starch to maintain. There was a lot of perfume wearing.

So yes, there’s plenty to consider when attempting to answer the simple question of how Thomas Jefferson smelled. I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night, seriously. But then—POOM—it all came to me in a flash: why would any of those factors really impact how Thomas Jefferson smelled? Really, if you think about it, they wouldn’t. Just because he was a poop-stepping, stressed-out founding father—and, later, President of the United States—why would he smell any differently than anyone else?

He wouldn’t, is what I decided. He’d smell just like us: he’d reach down and pick up the object in question, and then he’d put it up to his nose right under the nostrils, and he’d do like two or three thoughtful sniffs. Sniff sniff. Then he’d raise his right eyebrow and think about what he just smelled for a moment. Then he’d move the object even closer to his nostrils and do one more sniff. And then he’d be done.


Click the following link for more play on words humor: “How to Prepare a Chicken for Dinner.”

And for even more funny wordplay, check out “5 Signs You’re in the Wrong Job.”

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5 Responses to How Thomas Jefferson Probably Smelled

  1. Ok, did not see that coming. I’m going to venture on the original premise and say body odor strongly masked by heavy perfumes.

  2. Doobster418 says:

    Good twist at the end. On a similar note, I’ve always wondered about the cowboys of the old west. Not how they smelled, but what,/i> they smelled like. And it must have been rank. Seriously, how often did they bathe? Once a week? Did they even bother to brush their teeth? And what about the women of the old west? Oh lady, you really need to douche!

    Sorry, that was probably over the line. But still, think about it. Hygiene was probably not a high priority for those settlers, ranchers, and cowpoke.

    Enjoyed your post.

    • Bill Carson says:

      thanks, yeah—I feel like if a time traveller delivered a stick of Old Spice to a random stinking cowboy of old, that man would soon become king of America. He’d be like a god among his peers.

      • Doobster418 says:

        Well, if I ever invent a time machine, I now know what I will carry back with me into the past. It would be nice to be king of America!

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