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What was “the dark day of New England?”

May 19th

GA Dark Day Full ImageMay 19, 1780 – Around 10 a.m. today, an unexplained darkness crept in from the west and descended over New England as though it were nighttime.

The darkness subsisted until the next day, and at the time had no explainable cause behind it. It is known as “the dark day of New England.”

Though the darkness was prevalent all over New England, it was not uniform in all areas, and different places experienced different degrees of darkness. In the worst regions, people were afraid and left their work to be with their families. One Massachusetts man claims that “It was so terrible dark …that we could not see our hand before us.”

Speculation in later years rules out a lunar or solar eclipse; experts believe attribute the phenomenon to heavy smoke and vapor from large forest fires in Lake Champlain, which darkened the daytime sky.

Words of Wisdom

By 10 a.m., the sky went dark. ... The preternatural night had fallen. All over New England, every farmer, schoolboy, fisherman, maiden, cordwainer, blacksmith, clergyman, and laborer gawked upward for the missing sun and gasped at the remarkable and sudden elimination of light.

— Author John Horrigan, from his book, "The Dark Day Over Olde New England: An Unexplained Darkness Cast Upon the Colonies."

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