Dark Day – Today in History: May 19
Abraham Davenport

Ralph Earl, Abraham Davenport, 1788, oil on canvas
- Yale University Art Gallery

On May 19, 1780, a strange darkness fell over much of New England. It was so dark by noon that it was impossible to read or write even sitting by a window. The darkness that enveloped Connecticut remained there for a day and a half.

In Hartford, a legislative meeting was in progress at the Old State House. Instead of adjourning, legislator Abraham Davenport of Stamford said, “Bring the candles.” For this, and for assuaging the fears of what was perceived as the Day of Judgment by many of his colleagues, Davenport became a hero.

While still considered a supernatural event by some today, it has been proven through scientific examination of tree rings in Canada that a major forest fire in the spring of 1780 was the likely culprit of Connecticut’s Dark Day.

“The day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not.” – Abraham Davenport

Learn More


The Stamford Historical Society. “Abraham Davenport & The Dark Day,” 2013. Link.

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