The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811–12 were the strongest temblors
in the North American interior in at least the past five centuries.
From the Great Plains to the Atlantic Coast and from the Great
Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, a broad cast of thinkers struggled to
explain these seemingly unprecedented natural phenomena. They
summoned a range of traditions of inquiry into the natural world
and drew connections among signs of environmental, spiritual, and
political disorder on the cusp of the War of 1812. Drawn from
extensive archival research, Convulsed States probes their
interpretations to offer insights into revivalism, nation remaking,
and the relationship between religious and political authority
across Native nations and the United States in the early nineteenth
century. With a compelling narrative and rigorous comparative
analysis, Jonathan Todd Hancock uses the earthquakes to bridge
historical fields and shed new light on this pivotal era of nation
Through varied peoples' efforts to come to grips with the New Madrid earthquakes, Hancock reframes early nineteenth-century North America as a site where all of its inhabitants wrestled with fundamental human questions amid prophecies, political reinventions, and war.