A temperate empire: making climate change in early America by Anya Zilberstein

By Anya Zilberstein

'A Temperate Empire' explores how early North American settlers understood the common technique of weather warming and attempted to remake neighborhood climates via colonial cost and financial development.


A Temperate Empire explores how early North American settlers understood the frequent technique of weather warming and attempted to remake neighborhood climates via colonial payment and economic Read more...

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Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. 41 The Golden Mean 41 New England’s boundaries. Complications resulted partly from the Council of New England’s expansionist mandate but also from its members’ ignorance of the geography of the country. Most of them had never crossed the Atlantic. 36 This may be why John Josselyn, who visited Boston in the 1660s, believed that New England meant every English colony from 40° to 46° “Northerly Latitude, that is from the de la Ware Bay to New-​ found Land”—​the same vast territory that France had claimed as its own and that included Acadia and Île Royale (later British Cape Breton Island).

One Torrid, two Temperate, whereof one is towards the North, the other towards the South and two Frigid in like Position. 9 By the late eighteenth century, prolonged debates about the local climate drew attention to problems with the traditional cartography of the temperate zone. As local naturalists confronted increasing evidence of latitude’s inadequacy for understanding the wide range of variations within the temperate zone, they adapted ancient concepts, arguing that the regional climate’s peculiarity could be more fully understood through firsthand observation.

The winter lasts seven months … the deepest rivers are frozen over in one night, so as to bear loaded wagons; snow lies in some places ten feet deep, and upon level tracts it has been known to be six feet deep… . When this severe winter goes, at once comes a summer (for they have no spring) of a heat greater than is ever felt in England… . But what is almost as bad as the extremes of heat and cold, are the perpetual fogs, which render the country equally unwholesome and unpleasant. ” He predicted that “this is, and ever will be, the consequence of colonizing in such northern latitudes, where agriculture must ever be carried on with feebleness; where the climate is to the last degree rigorous; and where every spot is inhospitable and frigid.

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