Historical Tidbit: New England’s Dark Day

“May 19, 1780 was a remarkable dark day, which extended over the eastern states.

It commenced in the area early in the morning and continued till the morning of the 20th.

The atmosphere here appeared to be filled with a dense smoke, but there was no known cause which could produce such an effect.  The grass and leaves appeared to be drenched in a gloomy green.

The darkest time of the day was between eleven and two o’clock.  Many families found it necessary to light a candle when they ate their dinner. (Noon time meal)

‘ In the night it is said there was not a ray of light even of the feeblest class to distinguish an object though ever so near.’  The real cause of this darkness has nestled in conjecture to the present day.”

A recollection from Hilda (Morton) Thomas (1899-1991)


Back in 1780, there was no way to find an explanation as to what was happening because there were no meteorologists. The revolutionary soldiers spent the day in the taverns or churches not sure what was to come.   Today, scientists believe that wildfires in Canada caused the darkness due to high amounts of ash particles in the atmosphere.  sue and her plant And the next day it had passed, changing like weather in New England always does!


Respectfully submitted,

Sue Basile