Earthquake of 1755
What is probably the most violent earthquake in English-American history along the Eastern Seaboard occurred on November 18, 1755. The trembling was felt from Delaware to Halifax, Nova Scotia. More than 800 chimneys were knocked-down in Boston, and an estimated 1500 windows shattered. The following is a contemporaneous report from the November 24, 1755 edition of the Boston Evening-Post with an account of the disaster:
"About half an hour past four o'clock last Tuesday morning, we were surprised with the most violent shock of an earthquake that ever was felt in these parts of the world, since the arrival of the English.
There was a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every one into the greatest amazement; expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses.
This violent tremor continued for about the space of one minute (some say two) in which time the tops of a great number of chimnies, and many of them quite down to the roofs of the houses were thrown down, and many of the roofs on which they fell, beat in. Several chimnies for 7 or 8 feet below the top, were loosened from the lower part, and removed several inches from their places, and left standing in a very dangerous manner.
The ends and sides of several brick buildings were thrown down, and, in a a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them. — Much damage has also been sustained by the destruction of glass, china, earthen ware, etc. which was shook from shelves, and broke.
In the country also, we hear, many chimnies and stone fences were thrown down, and much other damage done: And some vessels in the bay under sail, tho' 'twas very calm, were so agitated,
that the men could not keep their legs; and 'twas the same with the vessels in our harbour. — A fishing vessel being at sea, about 17 leagues from land, or immediately after the shock,
observed the fish to come up to the surface of the water in vast numbers. — About three quarters of an hour after the amazing shock, there was a fainter one, and some persons imagine they
have felt several since.
As God in his holy Providence, hath been most awfully shaking the Earth, whereby many houses and chimnies, particularly in town, are prodigiously weaken'd; I would recommend it to the inhabitants, that they would employ proper persons to sweep and examine their chimnies; for I am very certain that there are many, tho' they appear to be no ways damag'd, which have actually received a great deal: So that a little inspection, and perhaps a trifle of charge, may be a means of preventing, not only the fall of chimnies by high wind, but of many houses from being consumed by fire."