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The Atlantic World: A History, 1400 - 1888

ISBN: 978-0-88295-245-1
530 pages
March 2007, ©2007, Wiley-Blackwell
The Atlantic World: A History, 1400 - 1888 (0882952455) cover image

Before the voyage of Columbus in 1492, the Atlantic Ocean stood as a barrier to contact between the people (and their ideas and institutions), plants, animals, and microbes of Eurasia and Africa on the one hand and the Americas on the other. Following Columbus’s voyage, the Atlantic turned into a conduit for transferring these things among the four continents bordering the ocean in ways that affected people living on each of them.

The appearance of The Atlantic World marks an important achievement, for it stands out as the first successful attempt to combine the many strains of Atlantic history into a comprehensive, thoughtful narrative. At the core of this ground-breaking and eloquently written survey lies a consideration of the relationships among people living in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, with a focus on how these relationships played important roles—often the most important roles—in how the histories of the people involved unfolded. The ways of life of millions of people changed, sometimes for the better but often for the worse, because of their relationship to the larger Atlantic world. And unlike existing texts dealing with one or another aspect of Atlantic history, The Atlantic World does not subjugate the history of Africa and South America to those of the “British Atlantic” or Europe.

With historians and other scholars beginning to reconceptualize the Atlantic World as a dynamic zone of exchange in which people, commodities, and ideas circulated from the mid-fifteenth century until the dawn of the twentieth century, the interconnections between people along the Atlantic rim create a coherent region, one in which events in one corner inevitably altered the course of history in another. As this book testifies, Atlantic history, properly understood, is history without borders—in which national narratives take backstage to the larger examination of interdependence and cultural transmission.

Conceived of and produced by a team of distinguished authors with countless hours of teaching experience at the college level, this thoughtfully organized, beautifully written, and lavishly illustrated book will set the standard for all future surveys intended as a core text for the new and rapidly growing courses in Atlantic History.

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Introduction 1

Method 4

Selected Readings 6

Chapter One. Conceptualizing the Atlantic World 9

The Atlantic and Its Continental Boundaries 13

Atlantic People in 1450 17

European 19

Africans 22

Americans 24

Geographic Constraints and Cultural Divergence 30

Selected Readings 37

Chapter Two. The Roots of an Atlantic System, 110-1492 41

Europeans and Sugar in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic 44

Into the Atlantic 49

Sub-Saharan States and Empires 54

Portugal’s “Guinea of Cape Verde” 58

Lower Guinea and the Kongo 64

The North Atlantic 66

An Age of Territorial Expansion: The Empires of the Western Atlantic 68

Selected Readings 75

Chapter Three. Iberians in America, 1492-1550 77

The Spanish in the Caribbean 81

The Portuguese in Brazil 88

Spanish Mainland Expeditions 92

Spanish Expansion into South America 101

Establishing Spanish Rule 104

Spain’s Advancing Frontiers 109

Selected Readings 112

Chapter Four. European Rivalries and Atlantic Repercussions, 1500-1650 115

A Fractured Unity 117

Taking Quarrels out of Europe 129

The Western Atlantic Entrepreneurs, Pirates, and Trading Posts 131

North Atlantic Settlements 138

Undermining Spain: Africa and Commerce 142

The Rise of the Dutch 143

Selected Readings 147

Chapter Five. Labor, Migration, and Settlement: Europeans and Indians, 1500-1800 149

Indian Labor Systems 150

European Laborers and Migrants 161

Settlements 168

Plantations 173

Family Settlement and Religious Migrations 178

Selected Readings 183

Chapter Six. The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in the Americas, 1580-1780 185

Appetites for Sugar—and Labor 187

Captives and Trade Goods in Africa 191

The Middle Passage 197

Slavery in the Americas 202

Maroon Settlements and Slave Revolts 208

Selected Readings 213

Chapter Seven. Trade in the Atlantic World, 1580-1780 217

Urban and Regional Transformations 218

The Cultures of Consumption 228

Transformations in Africa in the Wake of the Slave Trade 240

Selected Readings 251

Chapter Eight. Racial and Cultural Mixture in the Atlantic World, 1450-1830 255

The Atlantic’s New People 256

Africa’s Coastal Cosmopolitans 258

Cultural Transformations in the Western Atlantic 263

European and Africa Ethnicities in the Western Atlantic 266

Indigenous Responses and Cultural Innovations 271

Free People of Color 278

Selected Readings 288

Chapter Nine. The Atlantic Shrinks: War, Reform, and Resistance, 1689-1790 291

Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Warfare and Its Consequences 293

Total War 296

The Regional Impact of Warfare 298

War, Peace, and Geographic Ignorance 303

An Age of Imperial Reform 305

Resistance and Rebellion 315

Selected Readings 320

Chapter Ten. The First Imperial Rupture, 1754-1783 323

The Nine Years’ War 325

The Reshaping of the Americas 331

British Imperial Reform and Anglo-American Political Culture 334

The War Widens 341

Declaring Independence and Building Republics 343

Loyalists: Red, White, and Black 348

More Atlantic Repercussions 353

Selected Readings 357

Chapter Eleven. Revolutions and Counterrevolutions: The Season of Irony, 1789-1804 361

What is That in Your Hand? 362

Where Does It Bloom 365

The Tricolor in Black and White 365

The Reign of Terror 371

Washington’s Dilemma 372

The Thermidorian Reaction 375

The Haitian Détente 377

The Revolutions of 1800 and 1804? 385

Selected Readings 389

Chapter Twelve. The Ebb and Flow of Empire, 1804-1830 391

Independence: Northern South America 395

Independence: The Southern Cone 399

Independence: New Spain 405

Independence: Brazil 410

British Triangulation and Neoimperialism 414

Atlantic Africa 416

The Monroe Doctrine 419

The Panama Congress 422

Selected Readings 425

Chapter Thirteen. Industrialism and a New Imperialism, 1780-1850 427

Mercantile Capitalism Transformed 427

The Market Revolution and the American South 430

Thomas Jefferson: Unwitting Industrial Promoter 434

An Army of Redressers 439

Migration in an Industrial Age 441

Economic Neo-Colonialism 447

Atlantic Africa: New Exports, Cheap Imports, Heightened Dependence 452

Selected Readings 458

Chapter Fourteen. Abolishing Slavery in the Western Atlantic, 1750-1888 461

Abolition: The Early Years 462

Abolition by Law 468

Stopping the Slave Trade 473

The End of Slavery in Europe and the Americas 476

Abolition and Africa 482

Labor in the Post-Emancipation Period 485

Reconfiguring the Global Process 491

Selected Readings 493

Index 494

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Douglas R. Egerton is Professor of History at Le Moyne College. He is the author of the forthcoming Death or Liberty: African Americans and American Revolution (2007), He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey (1999), Gabriel’s Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802 (1993), and Charles Fenton Mercer and the Trial of National Conservatism (1989).

Alison Games teaches Atlantic history at Georgetown University, where she is the Dorothy M. Brown Distinguished Professor of History. She is the author of Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World (1999), winner of the Theodore Saloutos Prize in Immigration and Ethnic History. She has written extensively on different aspects of Atlantic history, and her articles have appeared in such journals as Slavery and Abolition, Itinerario, the American Historical Review, and the William and Mary Quarterly.

Jane Landers is Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and the author and editor of a number of books on Africans and the circum-Atlantic world, among them the prize-winning Black Society in Spanish Florida.

Kris Lane is Associate Professor of History at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. His books include Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500-1750 (1998) and Quito, 1599: City & Colony in Transition (2002). His other published works treat the topics piracy, Slavery, gold mining, headhunting, and witchcraft in colonial Ecuador and Colombia. He is currently completing a book on the early modern emerald trade.

Donald R. Wright is Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York-Cortland, where he teaches African, African American, and world history. He is the author of The World and a Very Small Place in African: A History of Globalization in Niumi, The Gambia (2nd ed., 2004), and two books in Harlan Davidson’s American History Series: African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins through the American Revolution (2nd ed., 2000), and African Americans in the Early Republic, 1789-1831 (1993).

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"I congratulate the authors of [The Atlantic World], who have not simply put together a comprehensive monograph about the Atlantic, but have put specialists from all the regions. They have produced a highly readable book not as a collection of articles, but as a joint written effort we seldom see. ...they may have presaged the way we all have to work in future collaborative schemes." (Dennis R. Hidalgo, Adelphi University, for H-Net Reviews, November 4, 2007)

"The authors' goal of writing a truly borderless and interconnected history of the Atlantic produces many new and provocative insights. ...Arguably the book's strongest accomplishment is the integration of West Africa into Atlantic history. ...a major contribution to the field of Atlantic history." (H-Net Reviews, November 5, 2007)

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