Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Abraham Davenport

Abraham Davenport was an American politician who became prominent during the American Revolution. He also served as a colonel in Connecticut state militia. He became famous for his reaction to New England's Dark Day (May 19, 1780), when the unusual darkness came on between 10 and 11 a.m. which lasted till the middle of the next night. As Davenport's colleagues suggested adjourning (as they feared that the Judgement Day was approaching) he refused to do it stating that in any case, he preferred doing his duty.

Later John Whittier wrote a poem about this famous incident:

...Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
"It is the Lord's Great Day! Let us adjourn,"
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush. "This well may be
The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord's command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hast set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face,
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles." And they brought them in...

... And there he stands in memory to this day,
Erect, self-poised, a rugged face, half seen
Against the background of unnatural dark,
A witness to the ages as they pass,
That simple duty hath no place for fear.

Read the whole poem over here.


  1. Very interesting. I wish this were better known. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Sounds very Reformed, in his work ethic, and his calm. :)

  3. Sharon, you are welcome! I think Lydia Sherman once posted it on old LAF site years ago. There are also Wiki articles about these topics.

    Will, it's quite possible he was!