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Tamboran Volcano - Year Without A Summer. This cold period caused death, famine, migrations, Frankenstein and Karl Marx.

Updated on June 6, 2020
Christofers Flow profile image

Christofer spent 10 years in family counseling. Later he obtained a Psy. D.. His focuses: Health, History, Astrology, Politics and Fables

With 70% Water Covering Our Surface, Unexpected Volcanic Activity Can Affect Watery Air Flow

In 1816 --- The “Year Without A Summer” Was Caused By Volcanic Outbursts

To sum it up: The Tambora was the largest eruption in recorded history. It blew its top on April 10, 1815.

Between 1812 and 1815 - Eruption deposits indicate the volcano had been active.

While the April 10 eruption was catastrophic;

all of the other effects of the multiple volcanic outbursts, enough ash was put into the atmosphere to cause GLOBAL COOLING.

Historic Moments-These Events Seemed Also To Affect Economies and Revolutions

There are several reasons the "Year Without A Summer" occurred. We were having the "Dalton Minimum" - a period of low sunspot activity causing cold in general and there were four other volcanoes which preceded the Tambora one.

Not Only Tambora, But Four Other Volcanoes From 1812 to 1814

The big Tambora volcano on the Island of Sumbawa, of the Dutch East Indies, was one dramatic "blow" with an explosivity index of 7. But what probably directly contributed, along with the "Dalton Minimum", were the more minor Tambora volcanoes between 1812 and 1814 and 4 other earthquakes with explosivity indexes of 4 in the below.

What About The Caribbean and The Northern Pacific?

In the Caribbean, in 1812, on the Island of Soufriere there was a volcano. Indonesia experienced a volcano on the Sanghihe Islands in 1812.

The Ryukyu Islands in Japan experienced one in 1813, and then the Phillippines on Mayon in 1814. These were not as immense as Tambora, but they were not lightweights either. There was much accumulated ash by the time Tambora blew.

American Western Expansion Commences - Joseph Smith's Family Leaves Vermont

The crop failures of the “Year Without A Summer” forced the family of Joseph Smith to move from Sharon, Vermont to Palmyra, New York. From western New York, the Mormons then began a series of migrations that took them to the mid west, and then they finally fled to Utah, in a kind of Exodus to a "promised land", under the leadership of Brigham Young, a man whose family also came from the western New York area.

The Biggest Migration Not Caused By War, in All of History

Western New York became an important destination from New England because of this weather. People decided to pick up and move since they were contemplating moving west anyway. The cold weather combined with a sense of "population explosion" or "feeling crowded", if you can believe it, moved upon the settlers and farmers in New England. 15 years later, in the 1830's, with many New Englanders already having left their original homes, because of the volcano, there began the biggest migration not caused by a war, in all of history.

The area of the mid west was absolutely wide open and there for the settling. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota all began to be settled by this "puritan" population which was originally from the New England area. Ultimately the entire northern tier of the west, all the way to Seattle, was settled by this same peaceful migration of New England "puritans".

Europe is Frigid

Europe, at this time, was still recovering from Napoleon and the destruction his last "Waterloo" brought to the whole area.

And don't think it was over because of the "Year Without A Summer". Precipitating famine, disease, lack and hardship caused a typhus epidemic between 1816 and 1819. Probably over 200,000 people perished during this period; (Ireland and Switzerland being the most impacted with population mortality).

Brown Snow, Red Snow, and "Frankensteinian" Weather

The eruption of Tambora also caused the Hungarian region to experience brown snow during the summer. Not too far away, Italy got something akin to brown snow. Red snow, throughout the year, was said to have fallen there. Of course the accumulation of five volcanoes in the recent past is believed to have been the cause for the "ash-colored" snow.

Partying in Rainy Stormy Switzerland Forces Literary Friends to a Writing Contest

In July of 1816 Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, John William Polidori and friends were forced to stay inside and stare through the windows at soggy, cold, unfriendly Switzerland. It drove them a bit batty. Amidst boozy boredom, they came up with the idea of a writing contest. Byron came up with a poem: "Darkness". Polidori, "The Vampyre"; and Shelley a story about a "Modern Prometheus", who would be fashioned by the now famous fictional "Dr. Frankenstein". Though it was finished and published in 1818, it was spawned at that place, during the "Year Without A Summer".

Frankenstein, Now a Horror Movie, Then a Feminist and Anti-Scientific Tome

Mary took the opportunity to make several profound points in her tale. She made arguments concerning science and its abuses and many undertones and symbols that had to do with feminism. Shelley’s mother, Mary Wollenstonecraft was the author of a well-known feminist text and undoubtedly influenced her daughter.

Mary Wollenstonecraft Godwin married Percy Bysshe Shelley, a poet and member of an established English family. He died relatively soon after they married in Italy. Her life was filled with struggle, but she wrote and wrote, and established herself after that strange summer in Switzerland, where her writing fame was born. Mary wrote a novel, which ended up being her best-known after "Frankenstein".

A Notable Dark Decade

The decade from 1811 to 1820 was heavily marked by real and powerful socioeconomic impacts. Malnutrition, poor agricultural production and spreading mild to severe regional and local epidemics had punishing effects on European and Mediterranean countries. With the end of the Napoleonic conflicts to boot, this was a very difficult decade, especially in Europe. With post war economic collapse and historic cold and famine, it was a dark and poverty-filled decade.

Ironically Dickens and Marx Born During This Time

Both of these men were born during this decade. One in England, the other in Germany. Charles Dickens, the English Author, wrote about heroic struggle with poverty. Karl Marx came up with an entire political philosophy for dealing with poverty. His ideas and work can be said to have affected millions of people in the early 20th century and today.

Both of these men grew up in poverty and carried on their adult lives constantly and profoundly addressing the social and political and personal effects of poverty. While Tambora and the time of Volcanoes and the Dalton Minimum can not be said to directly affect these two gentlemen, inasmuch as multiple societal, political and industrial factors were all at play at this time, there is still a strong symbolic case of irony that can make one infer that this "Volcano Time", Tambora, the Dalton Minimum and the "Year Without A Summer" still affect us today.

If There Were Weather Reports Back Then:

In May of 1816, the cold weather jumped on the young plants in the northeast and killed the crops.

June 4 was the big dramatic day; frosts were reported in Connecticut and New England. A cold front had a hold on the entire area.

On June 6, snow fell in upper state New York and Maine.

Farther north in Quebec City, a foot of snow fell and finished off most of their crops.

The malnutrition, starvation and epidemic that followed was called a "famine".

Volcanic Activity Tied to Planetary Movements?

© 2010 Christofer French


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