Atlantic History Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World
by
Aaron Spencer Fogleman
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0218

Introduction

In recent years, the 19th century has become increasingly important to the study of the Atlantic world. Whereas only a few years ago most Atlantic history scholars were early modernists and colonialists who focused primarily on Britain and its American colonies and ended their studies in c. 1800, now many historians incorporate much, if not all of the 19th century, into their studies, and they study all geographic areas of the Atlantic world. This has led to three important historiographical trends: First, more than ever historians are now studying developments from the late 18th and 19th centuries in ways that incorporate their full Atlantic context. This includes subjects such as the Age of Revolution, the Age of Emancipation, the Black Atlantic, and capitalism and slavery. In doing so they recognize connections and influences among people from Europe, Africa, and the Americas throughout the region. Second, historians have become interested in explaining how and when to “end” the history of the Atlantic world. They have pushed the end date deep into the 19th century, and there is now a consensus that this era must be studied in order to understand the end or transformation of the early modern Atlantic world that has been the focus of so much interest in the past generation. Last, many historians are studying the 19th century as a period of transition, in which previous relationships among Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans can be better understood in global terms. Historians writing in a number of languages addressing themes such as slavery, abolition, and migration have produced a lively scholarly literature that, among other things, better incorporates the South Atlantic into discussions of the Atlantic world.

General Overviews and Textbooks

A number of essay collections and the first textbooks on Atlantic history now include general overviews that significantly address 19th-century developments and incorporate them into their explanations of what the Atlantic world was, how it operated, and when it ended or was transformed. Klooster 2005, for example, associates the end of the Atlantic world with independence and the end of slavery in the Americas. Egerton, et al. 2007 pushes the end date to 1888, when slavery ended in the Americas. Benjamin 2009 recognizes the continued existence of slavery in Africa and pushes the end date to 1900. Since slavery in Africa predated Columbus and continued after its final abolition in Brazil in 1888, Fogleman 2009 stresses the transatlantic slave trade as the critical factor regarding slavery in the making of the Atlantic world and ends his study in 1867, when that trade ended and European imperialism in Africa began taking on a new form. Rothschild 2011 names no specific end date or development, but refers to “late” Atlantic history in the 19th century, when the Atlantic world disintegrated, after which global approaches are more suitable for understanding the history of this region.

  • Benjamin, Thomas. The Atlantic World: Europeans, Africans, Indians, and Their Shared History, 1400–1900. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

    E-mail Citation »

    As the only single-authored textbook to appear to date, its final four chapters address the late 18th and 19th centuries.

  • Egerton, Douglas R., Alison Games, Jane G. Landers, Kris Lane, and Donald R. Wright. The Atlantic World: A History, 1400–1888. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2007.

    E-mail Citation »

    This is the first textbook published on the Atlantic world, and its final four chapters address 19th-century developments extensively.

  • Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. “The Transformation of the Atlantic World, 1776–1867.” Atlantic Studies 6.1 (April 2009): 5–28.

    DOI: 10.1080/14788810802696261E-mail Citation »

    Explains how a fundamental transformation in the nature of encounters among Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans occurred from 1776 to 1867 that reshaped the Atlantic world as it had been developing since 1492.

  • Klooster, Wim. “The Rise and Transformation of the Atlantic World.” In The Atlantic World: Essays on Slavery, Migration, and Imagination. Edited by Wim Klooster and Alfred Padula, 1–42. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005.

    E-mail Citation »

    While the entire volume focuses on the earlier period, Klooster’s introductory essay provides a comprehensive sketch of Atlantic history, stressing the transformation instigated by independence and the end of slavery in the Americas during the 19th century.

  • Rothschild, Emma. “Late Atlantic History.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World, c. 1450-c. 1850. Edited by Nicholas Canny and Philip Morgan, 634–648. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    Provides a sweeping overview of important themes in the 19th century and argues that the Atlantic world lost its distinction in the first half of the 19th century and became a part of global history.

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