By Anya Zilberstein
'A Temperate Empire' explores how early North American settlers understood the frequent strategy of weather warming and attempted to remake neighborhood climates via colonial cost and fiscal development.
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Extra info for A temperate empire: making climate change in early America
Predictably, these pamphlets centered the temperate zone in whichever region—from Newfoundland to the Rio de la Plata—that they happened to be endorsing and, at the same time, marginalized competitors. Some writers absolutely excluded the Northeast or parts of it from the temperate zone. 1 A seventeenth-century French map based on the classical division of the world according to five climate zones. From abbé de Dangeau, “Planisfere ou Mapemonde divisee en cinq zones” (Paris, 1693). Courtesy of David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.
In 1755, the Board of Trade used the Potomac River (regarded as the center of the continent) to divide the administration of colonial territory between a northern and a southern Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Perhaps this is why at the end of the war surveyors were assigned to a Northern and Southern District—divided now at Pennsylvania—for the purpose of creating comprehensive maps of these two regions that integrated former French and Spanish territories Quebec, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, and the Floridas into the map of the British Empire in North America.
23 Numerous authors repeated verbatim Mitchell’s argument about the unfortunate mismatch between latitude and climate in northeastern North America, as well as its economic implications. Each chapter of American Husbandry (1775), one of the most widely circulated comparative surveys of the climate and natural resources on the continent, began with the geographical coordinates of individual colonies. But in the first chapter its anonymous author, who liberally excerpted from Mitchell’s Present State, warned readers that “to judge of the climate of Nova Scotia by the latitude would lead any person into egregious mistakes”: Between 44º and 50º of latitude in Europe we find some of the finest and most pleasant countries in this quarter of the world; but in Nova Scotia the case is very different.