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Climate foiled Europeans’ early exploration of North America

‘A Cold Welcome’ examines how the Little Ice Age and other factors shaped colonial history

By
8:00am, November 25, 2017
Illustration of Henry Hudson meeting Native Americans

LOOKING FOR NEW LANDS  A historian argues that climate, along with other factors, impeded Europeans early attempts at colonizing North America. English explorer Henry Hudson is depicted here meeting Native Americans in 1609 in what’s now New York.

A Cold Welcome
Sam White
Harvard Univ., $29.95

Many people may be fuzzy on the details of North America’s colonial history between Columbus’ arrival in 1492 and the Pilgrims’ landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620. But Europeans were actively attempting to colonize North America from the early 16th century onward, even though few colonies survived.

As historian Sam White explains in A Cold Welcome, most early attempts were doomed by fatally incorrect assumptions about geography and climate, poor planning and bad timing.

White weaves together evidence of past climates and written historical records in a comprehensive narrative of these failures. One contributing factor: Explorers assumed climates

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