Monday, January 11, 2010

Faith of Our Fathers - Colonel Davenport of Connecticut, 1780

Are you afraid of Judgment Day? If you are a person of faith, you might be very afraid of God's judgment if you have led a sinful, unrepentant life. If you have always relied on God's word and especially if you believe in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, you might welcome Judgment, or at least be too afraid. And if you have no belief in a higher power (except for nature), then the concept would have no hold on you.

Colonel Abraham Davenport was an important of the American Revolution and was a leader in Connecticut after the war. His faith was well established, and might very well have played an important role in his most famous action (one that has been written about, made into a poem, and made into a painting). Here is a description from Yale's Timothy Dwight in his Travels in New England and New York, published in 1822.

“The 19th of May, 1780, was a remarkably dark day. Candles were lighted in many houses; the birds were silent and disappeared; and the fowls retired to roost. The legislature of Connecticut was then in session at Hartford. A very general opinion prevailed that the Day of Judgment was at hand. The House of Representatives, being unable to transact their business, adjourned. A proposal to adjourn the Council [Senate or Upper House] was under consideration. When the opinion of Col. Davenport was asked, he answered, ‘I am against an 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. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

Davenport's suggestion was taken and the legislature continued to work. Do you think his calm was due to his faith? Or was he just applying a kind of human logic without benefit of faith? One could argue either way.

Read more of this story from the Stamford Historical Society:
Portrait of a Family: Stamford through the Legacy of the Davenports

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