On this day in 1780, residents of New England and New Jersey experienced “New England’s Dark Day”
May 19, 2025
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 19 of May, repeating indefinitely
On this day in 1780, residents of New England and New Jersey experienced what would later be called “New England’s Dark Day” or “Black Friday.” Starting roughly mid-morning, mysterious darkness fell over the sky from Maine south to New Jersey. Animals behaved as if it were nighttime and candles were required to see during the darkest hours of the phenomenon. Eyewitnesses reported a sooty smell and noted ash particles in the water. It’s now widely held that the darkness was caused by a large forest fire in Ontario, Canada. Did you know? Though the darkness had a natural explanation, some at the time feared it marked the Day of Judgement. Others took a pragmatic approach to the strangeness – Connecticut Senator Abraham Davenport called for candles as he worked, saying “I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty.” Characteristic of this dutiful attitude, in his later years Davenport worked straight through a fatal heart attack. Upon finishing his work, he went home and passed away.
Two men contemplating the Moon, Caspar David Friedrich, 1819-20