Monday, May 19, 2008

083. Franklin on Earthquake in 1750

In Jamaica, on June 7, at about 20 minutes to 12, immediately in the wake of a loud thunder, the earth began to shake, and then the walls of the houses fell on every side. Three shakes came one after another. The sea receded, then rushed back with terrible force, sweeping over the land and drowning hundreds of persons. Thousands perished. Shortly before noon on June 7, 1693, 33 acres (66%) of the "storehouse and treasury of the West Indies" sank into Kingston Harbor. (This information is from

In June 1750, Benjamin Franklin with his vivid language relayed the tragedy generated by the earthquake. In the critical time when the Chinese people, with the support of the whole world, are fighting heroically to recover from the tremendous casualty and damage caused by the earthquake of May 12, 2008, I post the following Franklin's description of the Jamaican tragedy. I hope that all peoples in the world should learn from Franklin's description that we should work together to find ways to avoid natural calamities, which are coming to visit the earth more and more frequently.

On the 7th of this Month, 1692, the Town of Port Royal, in Jamaica, was sunk by a fearful Earthquake.
The Day was very clear, and afforded no Suspicion of the least Evil; but in the Space of three Minutes, about half an Hour after 11 in the Morning, the fine Town was shaken to Pieces, sunk into, and cover’d, for the greater Part, by the Sea: By the falling of the Houses, Opening of the Earth, and Inundation of the Waters, near 2000 Persons were lost, many of Note.
For some Days afterwards, ’twas dismal to see the Harbour cover’d with the dead Bodies of People of all Conditions, floating up and down without Burial: For the great Burial Place, was destroy’d by the Earthquake; which dashing to Pieces the Tombs, whereof there were Hundreds in that Place, the Sea washed the Carcasses of those who had been buried out of their Graves.
A Sickness followed, which carried off some Thousands more.
During the Earthquake, Thieves robbed and plundered the Sufferers, even among the Ruins, while the Earth trembled under their Feet. Some were killed in the very Act by falling Walls, &c. JULY. V Month.

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