Friday, July 16, 2010

The Earthquake In Washington.

Early this morning a local earthquake was felt at Washington, D. C.  The effect was to startle people and to shake buildings and objects.  During the New Madrid earthquakes. Washington experienced them even at a great distance.  Here are a couple of examples. 
James Madison, President of the United States described in a letter to fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson, the effect of the February 7, 1812 earthquake and the ones preceding it.
"The re-iteration of earthquakes continues the uproar from certain  
quarters.  They have slightly reached the state of N. Y. and have been  
severely felt W. & S. Westerly.  There was one here this  morning at 5  
or 6 minutes after 4 H. It was rather stronger that here than any  
preceding one, & lasted  several minutes, with sensible though very  
slight repetitions throughout the succeeding hour."
(note: verbatim transcript with no corrections)

This was at the end of the letter to Jefferson.  The letter is contained in Image  
892 and 893, James Madison Papers, James Madison to Thomas Jefferson,  
February 7, 1812. At the Library of Congress website.

A local newspaper reported that
"And suddenly there was a great EARTHQUAKE, so that the foundations, &c. were shaken."--Yesterday morning about four o'clock, another smart shock of an Earthquake was felt in this city. Several persons of whom we have heard, were awaked from their sleep and much alarmed by it; in one instance a part of the ceiling of a room was shaken down by it. From the hour at which it occurred, it was not felt by many, and its duration, &c. differently described.”

(Washington, Intelligencer, February 7, 1812, Page 2, Col. 1. New Madrid Database Item, 18120208_nmad_26_978.)

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!