November 1 - 1755 - The Great Lisbon Earthquake

In the morning of All Saints' Day, November 1, 1755, an earthquake occurred in the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of Portugal. The earthquake was felt most acutely in Lisbon, the capital and largest city of the country. First, the quake itself knocked down many buildings and started fires. Then, a large wave crested over the city, destroying much of the area near the harbor. After the initial devastation, the reckoning with the event had to be taken place. The King of Portugal refused to live in walls after 1755, keeping the government and the court in a huge tent city. Philosophers like Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant grew obsessed with the event. Most importantly, though, the Prime Minister of Portugal at the time, Sebastião de Melo, gave a guide for what to do in Lisbon, to "bury the dead, and heal the living."

William Floyd