Friday, July 2, 2010

Ben Franklin, The 4th of July and Earthquakes

Ben Franklin and Earthquakes
In honor of the 4th of July I thought I would bring you a felt report of an earthquake done by one of the Founding Father, Ben Franklin.  Franklin was the leading early American scientist with a worldwide reputation.  His experimentation with electricity and his thirst for knowledge and technology were to serve as an inspiration to generations of Americans interested in the sciences.  He served as a newspaper publisher, producer of Poor Richard’s Almanac and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  He also had a prominent role as a diplomat for the United States as it was forging its independence.  So here is his report of an earthquake felt at Philadelphia on December 7, 1735:

“The Earthquake which supriz’d us here on Wednesday Night of the 7th Inst. was not felt at Annapolis in Maryland, but the Accounts we have from New-Castle on the Delaware, represent the Shake to be nearly as violent as here.  We have not as yet heard of it from any Place farther to the Southward than New-Castle.  But it was felt at Conestogoe near 100 Miles Westward of this City…..”(Extract from the Pennsylvania Gazette, Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2. P. 190.)

Note that spelling and capitalization of words was not standard at the time and so the passage seems chaotic in both items. 
From all at CERI have a happy 4th of July! 

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