What is the Atlantic world? What has led historians to begin studying the idea of an Atlantic world?  

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The Atlantic world, which has been discussed and studied by scholars, such as Paul Gilroy, and historians, such as Douglas Egerton, encompasses both the New World—North and South America—as well as Europe and West Africa. 

The Atlantic World is studied in regard to the impact of trans-Atlanticism—the transport of people...

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The Atlantic world, which has been discussed and studied by scholars, such as Paul Gilroy, and historians, such as Douglas Egerton, encompasses both the New World—North and South America—as well as Europe and West Africa. 

The Atlantic World is studied in regard to the impact of trans-Atlanticism—the transport of people and goods across the Atlantic Ocean—since the beginning of the Age of Exploration in the 1400s. Atlantic studies particularly focus on the impact of the Atlantic slave trade, or the Triangular trade, which brought slaves from the west coast of Africa to the Caribbean, South America, particularly Brazil, and the American colonies. 

Historians began to study the concept of "the Atlantic world" to understand the cultural, economic, and political impacts of this exchange of people and goods over the centuries. For example, to understand why the United States has built so much more wealth than other nations, it is important to study how slavery operated in the United States, as well as how it gained its independence from Great Britain, which allowed it to retain its wealth instead of giving it to the Crown. It is also important to understand the expansion of slavery into western territories after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the invention of the cotton gin in 1793. One then finds that Southern states supplied Britain and the New England states with the cotton that was used in textile factories. Thus, there was economic cooperation and codependency among the nations that existed long before we began talking about globalism.

By the late nineteenth century, cultural exchange became more important. Minstrel shows were exported from the United States to Britain and, less successfully, to Germany. Jazz, a positive cultural product, was exported to France from the United States shortly after the First World War due to the presence of black soldiers in France. Accordingly, slavery is not the only context in which we can think about trans-Atlanticism. We can also look at circumstances in which cultural exchange took place.

Finally, during the Enlightenment and the revolutionary periods, there was an exchange of political ideas between Europe and North America that encouraged the revolutions in America, Haiti, and France, respectively. As a result, many scholars study what are called the Atlantic Revolutions.

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