May 19, 2007

The Dark Day of 1780

On this day in 1780, an extraordinary event took place in New England. The sky became unusually overcast, and by noon it was as dark as night. Birds, cattle, and all the natural world behaved as if it were night. The darkness continued throughout the afternoon. Areas were affected as far north as Portland, Maine, and as far south as New York City .

Many people believed that Judgment Day had come. In the Connecticut Legislature, lawmakers moved to adjourn, but were rebutted by Colonel Abraham Davenport, who said "The day is judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause of an adjournment: if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought."

In Salem, it was noted that "persons in the streets became melancholy and fear seized all." Well, perhaps not quite all. It was said that the sailors "went hallooing and frolicking through the streets," calling out to the ladies they met to join them.

It is believed today that the phenomenon was probably due to a combination of smoke from forest fires and a thick fog.

Illustration: "Midday at Sea" from Our Day in the Light of Prophesy, W. A. Spicer, pub. 1917, Public Domain

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