Year Without a Summer

How can changes in weather cause people to migrate from one location to the next?

In its history, Vermont's people have needed to be resilient(the ability to recover from difficulty). In the 1800s, Vermonters survived many difficult events. They lived through the War of 1812 and many diseases. But what about a time in history when Vermonters struggled through adversity(difficulties or misfortune)? This year in history was 1816, known as The Year Without a Summer. Many Vermont residents were farmers in the 1800s and grew their own food. Unpredictable(not able to be predicted) weather made growing crops especially hard for Vermonters during 1816.

1816 began with a long winter. By spring, it still didn’t feel warm enough to plant crops. Some Vermonters turned to the Farmer’s Almanac(a handbook containing general information on a topic) for help. The Farmer’s Almanac helped farmers know when to plant crops and predicted weather patterns. An unpredictable frost hit in May. For the rest of the summer temperatures dropped below freezing every month! Some Vermont towns even claimed to have a foot of snow on the ground in the middle of June. Vermonters called that summer eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death.

The freezing weather stopped many farmers from planting their crops. Without any crops, Vermonters had nothing to eat. Farmers with livestock(farm animals) had no food to feed their animals. Vermonters could not survive another harsh year. By the next summer, many resilient Vermonters moved out west in hopes of an easier life. Today, research shows that in 1815 a large volcano in Indonesia erupted. The ash from the eruption blocked out sunlight all over the world for the next year. Without the sun, the temperatures dropped, and crops could not grow. This is what caused the Year Without a Summer all around the world.

Thinking About History

Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.

Many Vermonters left the state to find new places to farm. Do you believe they would have had better luck farming out west?

In 1816, temperatures were not recorded in every town. We now record this information nation wide. Compare the temperature of where you live with the temperatures at Middlebury College in 1816. How do they compare?

Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.

Vermont Historical Society. "Year Without a Summer." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed July 19, 2024.

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