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Historical Weather Service | Meteorological Monsters


The Hurricane of August 31, 1772

Library Introduction

Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, and recipient of a fatal bullet in a duel with Aaron Burr, was fifteen years old and living in the town of Christiansted, St. Croix, when the great hurricane of August 31, 1772, struck the island of St. Croix. From Hamilton's description, the eye of this storm passed directly over Christiansted. The following is excerpted from a letter written by Hamilton to his father on September 6, 1772.

Honored Sir,

I take up my pen, just to give you an imperfect account of one of the most dreadful hurricanes that memory or any records whatever can trace, which happened here on the 31st ultimo at night. It began about dusk, at north, and raged very violently till ten o'clock. Then ensued a sudden and unexpected interval which lasted about an hour. Meanwhile the wind was shifting round to the south west point , from whence it returned with redoubled fury and continued till nearly three in the morning. Good God! what horror and destruction - it's impossible for me to describe - or you to form any idea of it. It seemed as if a total dissolution of nature was taking place. The roaring of the sea and wind - fiery meteors flying about in the air - the prodigious glare of almost perpetual lightning - the crash of falling houses - and the ear-piercing shrieks of the distressed were sufficient to strike astonishment into Angels. A great part of the buildings throughout the island are leveled to the ground - almost all the rest very much shattered - several persons killed and numbers utterly ruined - whole families wandering about the streets, unknowing where to find a place of shelter - the sick exposed to the keenness of water and air - without a bed to lie upon - or a dry covering to their bodies - and our harbors entirely bare. In a word, misery, in its most hideous shapes, spread over the whole face of the country ....

In: "The Virgin Islands Our New Possessions and the British Virgin Islands" by Theodoor De Booy and John T. Faris, Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1918. Pp. 205-206. Library Call Number C/hc100v81 B.

 



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