Continuing on the theme of famous Americans and their reaction to the New Madrid earthquakes here is what John C. Calhoun thought of the earthquakes
Writing from Washington he related:
"How unusual our earthquakes-we had several shocks last night. In what will they terminate. No doubt you keep your attention directed on this unusual Phenomenon. If you made any observations do communicate them."(note the fractured grammar is a direct quote from the letter)
Calhoun was writing to Dr. James Macbride of Pineville South Carolina. Macbride must have heeded the request as his information was noted by Samuel L. Mitchill the Congressman from New York who collected New Madrid earthquake accounts.
Mitchill noted that:
"It was observed, by Dr. Macbride of Pineville, (S. C.) that the earthquakes terrified the inhabitants exceedingly it was accompanied by several appearances that countenances the theory of this phenomenon which brings the agency of electric fluid. 1. The unfrequency or absence of thunder storms: that is, they were much less frequent this year than usual, especially in the autumn. 2. Immediately before the earthquake, a red appearance of the clouds, which had darkened the water for twenty-four hours immediately before the shock: and 3. The loudness of the thunder, and the number of the peals within twenty-four hours after the first shock, and but a few hours before the last, which was felt before he wrote. Such thunder was very unusual at that season."
Macbride was an early South Carolina Physician. He was a native of Williamsburg County, South Carolina and practiced at Pineville on the Santee River. He was also a botanist who contributed articles to the Transactions of the Linnean Society. He died of yellow fever in 1818.
Source Robert L Merriwether, editor, The Papers of John C. Calhoun, Volume 1, 1801-1817(1959), Page 90.
Samuel L Mitchill, A Detailed Narrative of the Earthquakes... (1814) Page. 236
Albert E. Sanders and William D. Anderson, Natural History Investigations in South Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present.(1999) Page 38.
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