14. On December 9, 1683, the Corporation and President of Harvard agreed to hold commencement on the first Wednesday in July. By the calendar then in use (the Julian calendar) the next commencement would be on Wednesday, July 2, 1684. Four days after agreeing to the date, it was realized that a total solar eclipse would be visible on that date from Martha's Vineyard. Anxious to see the eclipse, Harvard President John Rogers and two Fellows, Samuel Andrew and John Cotton, addressed a letter to Increase Mather asking for his support to change commencement to Tuesday, July 1. In their letter, the three stated, "Wee are not superstitious about (the eclipse), but reckon it very inconvenient."
The date of commencement was moved one day early to July 1. And there is an odd twist to the story. The next day, the day of the eclipse, as the people of Cambridge and Boston watched the eclipse, President Rogers died suddenly as a result of "visitation of sickness." As it was recorded at the time: On Wednesday, 2 July 1684, “The Revd Mr. President Rogers dyed. The sun beginning to emerge out of a Central Ecclipps.”