Friday, October 14, 2011

Columbus blamed for Little Ice Age

Christopher Columbus gets blamed for lots of things from being a poor manager to being one of the causes of the mass genocide in the new world. However, one thing he is not associated with is global climate change. Until now anyway...

An article by Devin Powell titled Columbus blamed for Little Ice Age has some details. It notes, "By sailing to the New World, Christopher Columbus and the other explorers who followed may have set off a chain of events that cooled Europe’s climate for centuries. The European conquest of the Americas decimated the people living there, leaving large areas of cleared land untended. Trees that filled in this territory pulled billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, diminishing the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere and cooling climate, says Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford University."

Dr. Nevle is quoted, "“We have a massive reforestation event that’s sequestering carbon … coincident with the European arrival.”

I am not going to doubt the sincerity of this research. The world was changed by the European discovery of the new world. Lots of things happened. But Columbus sailing his boats across the Atlantic caused the Little Ice Age in Europe? I think it goes to show how we just don't understand everything about the global weather and how it acts over the long term yet.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

European Discovery and the Colonisation of Australia

The European Discovery and the Colonisation of Australia is a nice essay on the beginning of European history in Australia. The site was created and is maintained by the Australian government.

From the site:

The first records of European mariners sailing into 'Australian' waters occurs around 1606, and includes their observations of the land known as Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land). The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutchman, Willem Janszoon.

Between 1606 and 1770, an estimated 54 European ships from a range of nations made contact. Many of these were merchant ships from the Dutch East Indies Company and included the ships of Abel Tasman. Tasman charted parts of the north, west and south coasts of Australia which was then known as New Holland.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key is an illustrated biography of lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key. Is short and easy to read. It is worth a brief visit.

From the site:

When the British invaded Washington in 1814, Ross and Cockburn with their staff officers made their headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the residence of a planter, Dr. William Beanes, whom they subsequently seized as a prisoner. Upon hearing of his friend's capture, Key resolved to release him, and was aided by President Madison, who ordered that a vessel that had been used as a cartel should be placed at his service, and that John S. Skinner, agent for the exchange of prisoners, should accompany him. Gen. Ross finally consented to Dr. Beanes's release, but said that the party must be detained during the attack on Baltimore. 

Key and Skinner were transferred to the frigate "Surprise," commanded by the admiral's son, Sir Thomas Cockburn, and soon afterward returned under guard of British sailors to their own vessel, whence they witnessed the engagement. Owing to their position the flag at Fort McHenry was distinctly seen through the night by the glare of the battle, but before dawn the firing ceased, and the prisoners anxiously watched to see which colors floated on the ram­parts. Key's feelings when he found that the stars and stripes had not been hauled down found expression in "The Star-Spangled Banner," which gained for him a lasting reputation.

On arriving in Baltimore he finished the lines which he had hastily written on the back of a letter, and gave them to Capt. Benjamin Eades, of the 27th Baltimore regiment, who had participated in the battle of North Point. Seizing a copy from the press, Eades hastened to the old tavern next to the Holliday Street Theatre, where the actors were accustomed to assemble. Mr. Key had directed Eades to print above the poem the direction that it was to be sung to the air "Anacreon in Heaven." The verses were first read aloud by the printer, and then, on being appealed to by the crowd, Ferdinand Durang mounted a chair and sang them for the first time. In a short period they were familiar throughout the United States.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Did you know that Germany and Italy were Facebook friends prior to World War Two? Very cool summary of the war at "OMG WWII on FACEBOOK!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Was the Better Roman Emperor?

Princeton researchers have created a website called All Our Ideas. It allows people to compare two ideas and vote on the one they think is best.  So, for instance, the site asks, "What is our most important national priority?" You then click on one of two ideas. When you do, you're offered another pair of ideas. You're free to add your own suggestions, too.

Someone has set up a page there to ask Who Was the Better Roman Emperor?  Very amusing but I am not sure if I can really say if Florianus was better than Galba. Other votes were easy. Augustus beats Caligula hand down.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Portent: John Brown's Raid in American Memory

The Portent: John Brown's Raid in American Memory  is an nice site from the Virginia Historical Association. It describes Brown's raid and explores its immediate aftermath in American politics and its meaning over time.

From the site:

Throughout the twentieth century and during the past decade, apologists for John Brown have turned out imagery and biographies while his detractors have not been active. It has mattered little—the imagery and biographies have changed few opinions. Americans remain as divided over Brown now as ever.

To this day mention of the name John Brown brings powerful feelings to the surface. His violent attack against slavery continues to inspire debate about issues of liberation, justice, vigilantism, and terrorism. Do individuals ever have the right to carry out violent acts based on conscience? Does society have the right to protect itself by any means from such acts of violence and the fear they engender? If John Brown believed that he would succeed in what he saw as his God-directed assault on slavery, does the precedent of his attempt give anyone so inspired the freedom to pursue whatever course seems appropriate to carry out his or her righteous (or self-righteous) aims? If he believed he would ultimately fail but launched the attack anyway in an effort to make himself into a martyr, is Brown so different from the bombers of today—from Oklahoma City to Iraq—who attempt to galvanize public opinion and in that way incite political and social change? Do fanatical individuals ever have the right to put the lives of others at risk?

Friday, July 09, 2010

History Wiz

History Wiz is a source for history with original content. This includes multimedia exhibits, as well as links to other sites. Topics include world history, American history, and current events.

From the site:

The mission of this site is to promote an interest in history, to help us understand where we have been so we can know where we are going, and to provide high-quality history materials free of charge to everyone. We believe that history is more than a compilation of facts - it is the stories of the great and small, the causes and the effects. It is not just the political, but the social, religious, economic, and philosophical development of humankind. We try to bring this to life through exhibits. In addition, we provide a geographical, chronological, and topical interface which provides a basis for research. Although this site is based in the United States and American history is well represented, the focus is on an inter-connected world free of nationalistic bias. 

The director of HistoryWiz is Jennifer Brainard, BA, MAT, JD. Much of the information and recommendations found on these pages are based on her knowledge and experience as an educator and history journalist. This experience includes teaching in college and high school and authoring many articles on history. All materials on this site are copyrighted.