Monday, May 19, 2008

Today in History: New England's Dark Day

Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon, a horror of great darkness, like the night...
- Whittier

On that day, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light
- Isaiah 13:10

Two hundred and twenty eight years ago today (May 19, 1780), New Englanders experienced a near-total darkness at noontime that lasted until the next day's evening. Many thought the biblical end of the world was upon them. Recently, scientists discovered evidence of a massive forest fire in eastern Canada at the time, whose intense smoke, traveling southwestwardly, was responsible for blotting out the sun. Wired magazine today published an article about this terrifying event, and its rational explanation.

Abraham Davenport confers with Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, in the mural "Dark Day" by Stamford artist Delos Palmer (photo by Steve Castagneto). From a Stamford Historical Society article.

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