Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Eric the Red

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ERIC THE RED, Scandinavian navigator. He was the son of a jarl of Jadar, and was called red from the color of his hair. In 982 he was one of the Northmen who braved the dangers of the Atlantic ocean to settle in Iceland. During the following year he set sail from Bredifiord in search of land seen by Gunnbjörn, of which a tradition still lingered among the Northmen. He doubled Cape Farewell, and sailed up the west coast to the present site of Julianeshaab, where he saw large herds of reindeer browsing on the meadowlands. The country pleased him, and he named it Greenland, and the inlet Ericfiord. In 985 he returned to Iceland, but soon again set sail with twenty-five ships loaded with emigrants, and the means of founding a colony. He reached Ericfiord with but fourteen of his vessels, the remainder having been lost or forced to put back, and he built a settlement far up the fiord. The town grew and prospered, and in time the coast was explored and new plantations founded. As no trees grow in that region now, it is probable that the land was far more habitable than at present, and very little mention of ice is made by the early chroniclers. About 1000, an exploring party sent out by him, under the command of his son Leif, discovered the continent of North America, part of which they called Markland, and another part Vinland. The latter appears to have been southeastern New England. He is supposed to have established a colony in that neighborhood, but the evidence on which this supposition is made is not satisfactory. See Bryant and Gay's “Popular History of the United States,” and Rev. Benjamin F. De Costa's “Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen”; also, Laing's “Heimskringla,” which contains by far the ablest discussion of the subject.