In Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (2009) Jack Greene and Philip Morgan defined the field of Atlantic history as “an analytic construct and an explicit category of historical analysis that historians have devised to help them organize the study of some of the most important developments of the early modern era.” One of the most important historical developments historians have explored through the analytical construct of Atlantic History is the evolution of English and British overseas empire and its relationship to the the rise of capitalism and unfree labor in the early-modern era. These developments were largely ignored during the first four decades of the field’s history, but they stand at the forefront of the discipline in the twenty-first century, as David Armitage declares that “we are all Atlanticists now.”

Since the late 1980s, scholars have worked to eliminate barriers between divergent historiographies and to understand how the development of early-modern capitalism depended upon the creation of a “Red Atlantic” world of unfree labor that stretched across racial, class, and national boundaries. Today, the challenge for scholars in the field of Atlantic History is to build upon their predecessors. The task is to combine scholarship on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Native American history, and the history of European imperialism and colonialism, ultimately demonstrating how migrations to the New World were shaped by a spectrum of forcible and fraudulent practices.[1]

As Greene and Morgan state, nationalistic historians like the American Herbert Baxter Adams “located the narrative of American history in the Atlantic world” as early as the 1870s. Over one hundred years later, protracted surveys of America history, like The Shaping of America (1986) by Donald William Meinig, continued to take an Atlantic perspective on national development, but they also ignored the unique, historical development of unfree labor in the early-modern British empire. Meinig claimed it was “impossible to imagine the development of the world” without imperialism. His comment reflected the earliest stages of Atlantic History, when historians interpreted imperialist expansion as an inevitable force, if they acknowledged the existence of imperialism at all. By the early 2000s, practitioners in the field would drastically change their views. Scholars would not only come to accept the notion that unfree labor was a unique development in the early-modern era, but they would position questions regarding unfree labor at the center of the field.[2]

Despite the Atlantic focus of early historians like Baxter, the Atlantic World did not emerge as a recognized framework of study until the middle of the twentieth century. According to the American historian Bernard Bailyn, the field of Atlantic History derived its political inspiration from the end of WWII, after 1945, when foreign policy realists in America and Western Europe coalesced the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). These two political bodies were Atlantic alliances designed to protect the mutual economic and political interests of America and Western Europe. In the 1940s, the international community (between America and Western Europe) recalled the writings of interventionists like the American journalist Walter Lippman in 1917. Lippman had argued that America needed to intervene in WWI to protect an “Atlantic Community.” According to the English economic historian William O’Reilly, these notions of a common, Atlantic community were lost in American discourse during the isolationist decades of the 1920s and the 1930s, but they reemerged in the 1940s. For example, historians like Ross Hoffman incorporated Lippman’s idea of an Atlantic community in modern political studies like “Europe and the Atlantic Community” (1945).[3]

Early practitioners in the field of Atlantic History also derived ideological inspiration from the Annales School of French History. This school featured historians, like Fernand Braudel, Marc Bloch, and Pierre Chaunu, who formulated cross-cultural histories around geographic zones of contact rather than individual national polities. Braudel, for example, characterized the Mediterranean Sea in the era of Phillip II as a cohesive and culturally binding unit while simultaneously breaking the region down into its constitutive, cultural components. Braudel proved that historians could break the constraining, methodological framework of nationalist history by taking a large geographic region as their focus instead of an individual country. Although these geographic regions were vast, the Annales historians demonstrated that it was possible to articulate a cohesive set of influences while still respecting the cultural diversity of a large zone of contact. Annales historians demonstrated this process in such works as the eight-volume Séville et l’Atlantique (1955) by Chaunu and The Rhine (1935) by Lucien Febvre. Specifically, Chaunu demonstrated that the history of the overseas Spanish empire could be told by foregrounding its relationship to the greater Atlantic Ocean during the early-modern era. [4]

By the 1950s, the Annales School of historians popularized a mode of historical inquiry based upon the examination of geographic zones rather than national polities, over a protracted period of time conceptualized as the longue durée. In his book Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (2005), Bailyn denied that the emerging field of Atlantic History “imitated” the Annales School. Nonetheless, Annales historians set the precedent for a general rethinking of nationalistic and imperialistic histories of the early-modern era in the English and British traditions. In the 1950s, Spain published the first Journal of Atlantic History, and academic conferences began to explore the Atlantic Ocean as a zone of closer study. For example, in 1955, the American historian Robert Roswell Palmer and the French historian Jacques Godechot presented their collaborative paper, entitled Le proble`me de l’Atlantique (1955), at the Tenth International Congress of Historical Sciences in Rome.[5]

Palmer and Godechot had larger diplomatic and political motivations for exploring the greater Atlantic Ocean as a zone of  cross-cultural contact. The two scholars were utilizing the framework of Atlantic history to strengthen modern political ties between France and America in the postwar era. They argued that both nations had common origins in the democratic revolutions of the late eighteenth century. Scholars received this argument coolly. Many believed that the idea was exceptionalist, self-congratulatory, and intended as an apology for NATO. Rather than using Atlantic History to critique the formation of Atlantic empires, early Atlanticists like Hoffman, Palmer, and Godechot wrote works that called upon Western Christendom to reaffirm its “shared revolutionary moment” in the age of communism. These early writings revealed that the discipline of Atlantic History was not yet ready to engage in a critical discussion of capitalism, empire, or unfree labor in the Western world.[6]

The 1940s, 1950s, and the 1960s witnessed the radicalization of American history with the publication of groundbreaking works like Herbert Aptheker’s American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), C. Vann Woodward’s The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955), and Kenneth Stampp’s The Peculiar Institution (1956). Particularly, the Civil Rights Movement sparked renewed interest in the study of race relations and the history of American slavery. Meanwhile, the English historiographical tradition underwent an analogous period of radicalization. This phase was spearheaded by a cohort of radical, Marxist historians that included the likes of E.P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, and Christopher Hill. In studies such as The Making of the English Working Class (1963), Thompson pioneered a new view of labor studies. He located the radical politics of the revolutionary age and the articulation of modern democracy in the formation of the working classes. As American historians demonstrated the agency of black slaves in the early-modern era, Thompson and others demonstrated the agency of the white laboring classes. Together, these histories became characterized as “the New Left” or the “New Social History.” Historians from various disciplines focused their attention on studying historical processes from the perspectives of peoples who had been previously overlooked by top-down, political analyses.  In other words, scholars were beginning to study the past from the perspectives of commoners.[7]

Despite the rise of New Social History from the 1940s to the 1970s, Atlantic History was slow to adopt similar methods in the United States. John Hopkins began the first institutional program for Atlantic History in the late 1960s, and the next contingent of major, American historians to embrace the Atlantic perspective emerged. This contingent included the likes of Bernard Bailyn and Alfred Crosby. These historians emphasized trans-Atlantic connections and themes, especially migration, but they avoided the topic of unfree labor. Speaking generally, they carried the political motivations of the 1940s into their scholarship. Crosby situated the origins of America in the early-modern migrations of pathogens, people, and plants. His migration was multi-faceted because he included ecological and demographic perspectives; however, the victims of early-modern migration, like Native Americans and Africans, were presented as one-dimensional figures to be acted upon rather than to lead change. Similarly, Bailyn situated the radical origins of the American Revolution in the migrations of the late eighteenth-century. While his demographic series was called The Peopling of British North America, he took very little interest in the non-white peoples who were victimized by the formation of colonial empires. Like the postwar histories of the 1940s, Bailyn was interested in establishing political, demographic, and ideological connections between America and Western Europe.[8]

The works of Crosby and Bailyn have little in common. Nonetheless, they demonstrate that the radical ethos of New Social History and the multicultural nature of unfree labor were largely absent from Atlantic History during the first decades of its acceptance in America. Bailyn’s Atlantic World even became known as the “White Atlantic.” Bailyn situated trans-Atlantic radicalism in the Age of Revolutions as a result of successive waves of white, European migrations that were mostly voluntary. Specifically, Bailyn traced the demographics of the American patriot generation following the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763). He focused his attention on thousands of Scottish and English migrants, and their intersections with natives and Africans were overlooked. His title “Peopling” even implied that British migrants filled an empty American landscape. This presented a sort-of Manifest Destiny that occluded a discussion of how landscapes were created through conflicts between natives and migrants. In Voyagers to the West, for example, Bailyn looked at nine thousand people listed on the “Register of Immigrants” for 1773-1776. While he admitted that poor, young-to-middle-aged males were intended by the British state as a force of labor in the overseas American colonies, he was mainly interested in explaining the modern demographic makeup of the American nation. He was not interested in using the experiences of early-modern migrants to critique British systems of unfree labor.[9]

Bailyn encouraged a generation of students who followed his assumptions and methods. Most notable among these new scholars was the American historian Alison Games, who mimicked Bailyn’s source work with registers in her dissertation Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World (1999). Instead of studying the patriot generation through immigrant registers in the 1770s, Games studied the 1635 port registry of London during the Laudian administration, over one hundred years earlier. Games traced 1,360 members of this New World cohort as they moved across the Atlantic and found homes in the overseas American colonies. She observed that the lives of these white migrants were characterized by transience, impermanency, mobility, and a trend of “profound disarray.” Like Bailyn, she depicted the Anglo-Atlantic as a “world in motion,” but she stopped short of discussing the unfree origins of Atlantic migrations or the cultures of violence that facilitated those migrations. Following Bailyn’s lead, Games ignored the problematic relationships that English migrants had with Indians, Africans, and white elites. She overlooked the extent to which migrations in the early-modern era were involuntary. While both Games and Bailyn focused on everyday people as the building blocks of empire in the Atlantic World, they avoided critiques of empire, and they ignored the roles that unfree labor and forced migration played in shaping the colonial world.[10]

Games and Bailyn were writing during an age when the construct of early-modern capitalism had not yet been fully formed. During the 1980s and 1990s, many radical scholars still referred to the nineteenth century as the dawn of European, overseas imperialism, articulated as the highest form of “finance capitalism.” This view was cultivated by early twentieth-century critics of capitalism like Vladimir Lenin, Rudolf Hilferding, Otto Bauer, and John Hobson. These scholars located the British imperial project in the nineteenth-century conflicts of South Africa, greater Africa, and Asia. They interpreted events like the Treaty of Tianjin (1858), the Treaty of Berlin (1884), and the Boer Wars (1880-1881, 1899-1902) as the beginnings of a mature, overseas imperial project based in high-order capitalism. In short, the idea that England or unified Britain (after the year 1707) had an earlier period of imperial and capitalistic development, rooted in the Atlantic World, was mostly unrecognized.[11]

Talking about capitalism in the early-modern era was hard, even for Marxist historians of the New Left. Karl Marx articulated the theory that nations were pre-capitalist until they reached a certain level of historical maturity. Likewise, he argued that the lowest orders of society belonged to a social caste called the lumpen proletariat. These individuals did not exhibit any form of class consciousness, and therefore could not be the subject of revolutionary action. In this sense, Marx did not evaluate the capitalistic nature of America because the nation had not yet matured in his eyes. Similarly, Marxist students in the twentieth-century interpreted the early-modern era as a pre-capitalist age. For example, in formative works, Eugene Genovese and Hobsbawm contended that slaves and social bandits were pre-capitalist, not because they questioned their agency, but because they adhered to the Marxist belief that the early-modern world should not be characterized as either capitalistic and imperialistic.[12]

Followers of Marx were not the only scholars who did not interpret the early-modern world as a period of capitalism and imperialism. Authors like Crosby preferred to use mercantilism to describe the early-modern era, and they focused on the mutual or inevitable exchange of goods. Historians of imperialism like Joseph Schumpeter argued that imperialism was an atavistic phenomena, devoid of all economic incentive and ultimately incompatible with mature, capitalistic societies. Like Marx, Schumpeter’s notion of imperialism prevented associations between the early-modern British empire and capitalism. In Marx’ analysis, the early-modern world could not be capitalist because the colonies had not matured to a stage in their development where capitalism was possible. In Schumpeter’s analysis, the early-modern world could not be imperialist because relationships between the colonies and the metropoles were driven by economic motivations. Metropoles and colonies were enmeshed in an economic world system like the one described by Immanuel Wallerstein in the 1970s. Wallerstein’s system was both capitalist and rooted in the Age of Exploration, but it was also based on the premise of free labor. Even Wallerstein reflected the contemporary notion that imperialism was rooted in the nineteenth-century and largely absent in the early-modern economy. This notion helps to explain why Bailyn and Games ignored the role of unfree labor in their early works on Atlantic History.[13]

Bailyn’s student, David Armitage, helped break the assumption that the early-modern world was not compatible with imperialism or capitalism. He tackled this question in his groundbreaking work, Ideological Origins of the British Empire. In examining such historical figures as John Dee, Samuel Purchas, Philip Meadows, and Richard Hakluyt, Armitage demonstrated the existence of a discourse on English and British empire in the early-modern era. His text was part of a generation that helped to make it possible for future historians to speak about British imperialism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Armitage went beyond his predecessors to situate early-modern migration in the “the political economy of empire.” He located the imperial logic of colonialism within the views of private company investors and Enlightenment writers like Sir William Petty and John Locke, and he demonstrated the existence of a strong intellectual tradition that was firmly embedded in notions of imperial expansion. Armitage showed how both Scotland and Ireland were maneuvered by top figures in England to play subservient roles in the formation of the British overseas empire. Armitage’s study served as a precursor for more-detailed works like Hakluyt’s Promise by Peter Mancall. In this text, Mancall unpacked the imperialistic motivations of the late-sixteenth century writer Richard Hakluyt. Mancall demonstrated the incestuous relationship between imperialism and migration by illustrating Hakluyt’s design for an overseas empire in America. Contrary to both Bailyn and Games, this vision was based as much upon “peopling the land” as it was with cleansing the home front.[14]

The next frontier of Atlantic History involved combining critiques of imperialism, capitalism, and unfree labor with the bottom-up methodologies of New Social History, rather than intellectual traditions. This shift made the unfree origins of British migration a priority in the 1990s and 2000s. Three of the most important historians to lead this change were Carla Pestana, Karen Kupperman, and Marcus Rediker. In her study, The English Atlantic in the Age of Revolution, 1640-1661, Pestana located the dawn of the English Atlantic empire in the transformative age of the English Civil War. She noted that the English overseas empire experienced a significant rise in unfree labor that coincided with both Cromwell’s Western Design and the subsequent fall of the Protectorate. Pestana observed the English colonial population grew from fifty thousand in 1640 to two-hundred thousand in 1660, and that these new migrants—despite what Bailyn and Games had emphasized—were mostly unfree persons. Mirroring the work of labor historians like Yann Moulier, Atlantic historians observed that unfree migrants in the British empire were a diverse group.  They included Scottish Covenanters, Irish Catholics, indentured servants, religious and military dissidents, prisoners of war, criminals, children, orphans, and African and native slaves. Carla Pestana reaffirmed the work of historians like Bailyn, Games, and Armitage by demonstrating how the origins of the British empire were found in the early-modern era, not in the nineteenth century. However, Pestana began to move beyond the work of her predecessors by acknowledging the multitudinous victims of state-enforced migration.[15]

Historians like Pestana and Rediker formed an emerging vanguard of scholars who dedicated their efforts to showing how the English, revolutionary government created systematic policies in order to supply their colonial holdings with various forms of unfree labor. In the works he produced since the late 1980s, Rediker articulated a “Red Atlantic” world. This phrase described a multicultural region of violent upheaval and revolutionary resistance across racial lines. Rediker borrowed from the maritime traditions of New Left scholars like E.P. Thompson and Jesse Lemisch. He demonstrated the exploitative nature of the English and British state in the early-modern era. Most importantly, Rediker broke from Marxists of the previous generation by asserting that the lowest orders of society had a class consciousness that was fully formed. The victims of early-modern capitalism and imperialism were much more than lumpen proletariats, social bandits, or passive recipients.[16]

Rediker and Peter Linebaugh reconciled Marxist historiography and the rise of capitalism with critiques of imperialism in the early-modern era. They demonstrated that the early-modern era was no less capitalistic than the nineteenth-century of Hobson. In works such as Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987), the Many Headed Hydra (2000), and Villains of All Nations (2004), Rediker broke from the tradition of the “White Atlantic.” He articulated a crucible of state-sponsored violence resisted by a multicultural, proletariat class. This class included African slaves, European radicals and sailors, and native runaways. These people fought against the exploitation of the English and British state, which had tried to make them serve as unfree labor. The group was a motley bunch; they were supposed to be the “hewers of wood” and the “drawers of water,” but they came together as a “many-headed hydra” to resist their prescribed roles and to push back against the hegemony of empire.[17]

Thompson rooted the origins of the English working class in the enclosure movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the 1990s, a group of English historians from Thompson to Bernard Capp, Brian Manning, and Jane Humphries all placed the enclosure movement and the forced expropriation of diverse, unfree labor at the center of their critiques of British empire. These historians demonstrated how the fall of medieval, feudal societies resulted in the state’s closure of commonly held lands. This enclosure movement encouraged large migrations from the country to the city, where unemployed and working-class peoples congregated in dockside neighborhoods like Wapping. In the 1990s, scholars like Linebaugh and Rediker articulated how the incipient English state capitalized upon these demographic changes in order to enact its various, overseas imperial projects. The English state impressed an exorbitant amount of sailors and soldiers into the New Model Army and the Royal Navy, especially after the passage of the Navigation Acts and the beginning of Cromwell’s Western Design program. Meanwhile, the English state took the advice of intellectual imperialists and venture capitalists—the Richard Hakluyt’s of the mid-seventeenth century—who believed that the state could rid society of undesirable persons while simultaneously “peopling” its colonial holdings.[18]

Historians like Karen Kupperman filled an important historiographical gap by demonstrating how English migrants to the New World collided with Native peoples in such works as Providence Island, 1630-1641 (1995), and Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (2000). Historians of Native American history, like Daniel Richter and Allan Gallay, explored similar collisions in works like Facing East from Indian Country (2000). Contrary to the work of Bailyn, Games, and Crosby, these scholars showed that the lands of America were neither empty regions, waiting to be peopled, nor undifferentiated landscapes, waiting to experience an inevitable ecological and demographic collapse. Atlantic historians began to describe areas of the New World as contested landscapes. The promise of colonial homesteads was not guaranteed. Rather, colonial lands were created through state-supported processes of violence and exploitation. In books like The London Hanged (1992), Villains of All Nations (2004), and Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates (1986), Linebaugh, Rediker, and Robert Ritchie demonstrated how the state tried to monopolize a culture of violence through the public execution of criminals. The corpses of undesirables were prominently displayed in full view.[19]

Atlantic historians demonstrated how the English imperial state guaranteed regular migration to its colonial holdings in the early-modern world through fraudulent and forcible means. The state emptied prisons like Newgate and Bridewell, and raided orphanages and local taverns for forced labor. State authorities kidnapped convicts and debtors and forced them to work out indenture contracts on New World plantations to pay off debts. Poor commoners were “spirited away” or “barbadosed” to the New World after a night of drinking. Many of these unfortunate people were forced to be engages. As Michael Walsh and Don Jordan remind us, these workers were treated no better than white slaves. Contemporaries like Alexander Exquemelin detail how terribly these indentured servants were treated, revealing how they often died before their prescribed term of service ended. Aside from kidnapping its own citizens, the English state transported subjects from the colonized British isles to the American territories for labor, as Nicholas Canny writes about Scottish Covenanters and Irish Catholics. Shortly thereafter, the English state encouraged the monopoly of the Royal African Company and African slaves began overtaking indentured servants in colonies like the Chesapeake. Historians of the Black Atlantic like Stephanie Smallwood have demonstrated that, after the War of Spanish Succession, the British state secured the right to transport slaves to the Spanish colonies through the Asiento, and the most successful century of the slave trade from West Africa to the Americas was underway.[20]

Scholars in the “Red Atlantic” tradition of Rediker and Linebaugh describe the formation of the Atlantic World in a much different way than Bailyn or Games. The latter two scholars focused on individuals who migrated with their families voluntarily or came alone in pursuit of better economic opportunities. In crossing the Atlantic Ocean, these hardy explorers sought better circumstances for themselves, and their work paved the road for the American Revolution and the culture of American exceptionalism. Rather, in Rediker and Linebaugh’s analysis, the Atlantic World was formed through the massive expropriation of unfree labor for capitalistic enterprises of the state and private interests. As far as venture capitalists were concerned, unfree labor need not be restricted to racial, ethnic, class, or national lines. In other words, the English state would mobilize people for unfree labor regardless of where they hailed from or whether they wanted to travel to the New World or not. By the age of Rediker and Linebaugh, the origins of British imperialism were firmly established in the early-modern era, and the British overseas empire of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was entering a decade of scholarship where its capitalistic nature was practically indisputable.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the historiographical stage was set to mobilize the methodologies of Social and Cultural History to critique the formation of the British, capitalist empire in the early-modern era. In 1995, Bailyn began hosting the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World at Harvard University. A new generation of scholars entered the field. These scholars launched critiques against the capitalistic formation of the English state. For example, John Donoghue traced trans-Atlantic resistance to the expropriation of unfree labor in the overseas English empire to militant protestants in Massachusetts and revolutionaries in Coleman Street Ward, London. In his book Fire Under the Ashes (2014), Donoghue did not ignore native-migrant conflicts like Games and Bailyn had. Instead, he demonstrated how the emerging British empire brought involuntary migrants into violent collisions with natives in conflicts like the Pequot War. These collisions shaped the radical views of English migrants like Thomas Venner, who returned to England and articulated pleas for liberty of conscience and justice for humanity. In his analysis, Donoghue showed that relocating British capitalism and imperialism to the early-modern era backdates the abolitionist movement one hundred years before the appearance of figures like William Wilberforce and Olaudah Equiano. Other scholars, like Denver Brunsman in The Evil Necessity (2013), articulated comprehensive critiques of specific mechanisms of British empire, like the impressment movement in the Royal Navy.[21]

The most important feature of scholarship from the latest generation of Atlantic historians is the emphasis on the motley nature of revolutionary resistance to state-sponsored exploitation. Scholars like Rediker, Linebaugh, Donoghue, and Jill Lepore have articulated the diverse nature of resistance to imperial oppression in the early-modern era. In Villains of All Nations (2004), for example, Rediker demonstrated how pirates formed floating, shipboard societies that were more democratic, in certain respects, than their land-based counterparts in colonial America. Black Flag pirates like Blackbeard and Bellamy integrated peoples of African and Native American descent into their pirate crews, and pirates articulated political motivations that stood in stark contrast to the imperial demands of the English state. Now, Atlantic historians are demonstrating how other forms of resistance to imperial oppression also drew upon a wide demographic base that crossed racial, national, and class lines.[22]

The historiography of the “Red Atlantic” has remained relatively limited in its connection to work on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This problem derives from the fact that scholarship on the slave trade suffered from what Rediker, in The Slave Ship (2007), termed the “violence of abstraction.” A lineage of scholars from Eric Williams to Philip Curtin, Joseph Inikori, John Fage, and James Rawley, have focused on what David Eltis and David Richardson have called “the numbers game.” This refers to the fact that historians have been preoccupied with quantifiable methodologies and attempting to understand the demographic and economic realities of the trade, rather than its human components. Rediker has argued against this statistical emphasis in his work The Slave Ship. Instead of focusing on how many slaves were captured, how many slaves died in the Middle Passage, and how much money was accrued by empire in the process, Rediker focused on recreating the human experiences of those who participated in the slave trade as captains, crews, and slaves. Like Paul Gilroy in his study of the Black Atlantic experience in the modern era, Rediker employed the slave ship as both the setting and metaphor for his analysis. He demonstrated the culture of violence that cascaded downward from the slave-ship captain to the slave-ship crew and, eventually, to the enslaved peoples themselves.[23]

Maritime historians like N.A.M. Rodger had previously demonstrated how the ship served as a “wooden world” that defined the cultural experiences of those who lived upon the high seas. Rediker took this analysis even further in The Slave Ship. He demonstrated how the slaver was not only a vehicle and piece of advanced technology for the appropriation of unfree labor, but, like the Ouidah barracoon described by Robin Law, the ship was a carceral factory. The slave ship produced docile bodies in the Foucaultian sense. It was a mechanism for the British imperialist project to appropriate unfree labor, but it was also the site where that labor was molded through intimidation, fear, violence, and systematic dehumanization. More than any other text, The Slave Ship demonstrated the potential for Atlantic History to strengthen our understandings of early-modern capitalism while incorporating people of African descent into the conceptual framework of the “Red Atlantic.” Other scholars, like Emma Christopher and Joseph Miller, have also used the slave ship for similar purposes.[24]

Atlantic History has come a very long way since the postwar years of the 1940s. Working the concepts of unfree labor, capitalism, and imperialism into the conversation about the early-modern era has taken decades of hard work. Discussing unfree labor in the early-modern world meant proving the existence of a British state that was both capitalistic and imperialistic. The conversation involved bringing divergent historiographies together so that scholars like Rediker and Donoghue could write about an Atlantic that was more than white, black, Irish, or restricted to numbers. Now, historians like Peter Colclanis and David Brion Davis advocate for stretching the field beyond meaningful analysis. Others, like Sara Pearsall, suggest returning the field to the time of the “White Atlantic,” writing about literate subjects in an “empire of letters.” Nonetheless, the “Red Atlantic” is here to stay. Connections between capitalism and unfree labor in the early-modern era will grow stronger as historians deepen their understandings of everyone who participated in forming our “shared revolutionary moment.”[25]

[1]Jack Greene and Philip Morgan ed., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 3. David Armitage ed., The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 1.

[2]Ibid. 3; Donald William Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 1, Atlantic America, 1492-1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), xviii.

[3]Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), 9,11,28; Walter Lippman, The New Republic, February 17, 1917, 60; William O’Reilly, “Genealogies of Atlantic History,” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents, 1:1 (2006): 72; Ross Hoffman, “Europe and the Atlantic Community,” Thought, 20 (1945).

[4]Fernand Braudel, La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II (Paris: Armand Colin, 1949); Pierre Chaunu, Séville et l’Atlantique (Paris: SEVPEN, 1955); Lucien Febvre, Le Rhin: Problèmes d’histoire et d’économie (Paris: Armand Colin, 1935).

[5]Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours, 4; William O’Reilly, “Genealogies of Atlantic History,” 67; Jacques Godechot and R. R. Palmer, “Le proble`me de l’Atlantique du XVIIIie`me au XXie`me sie` cle,” Comitato internazionale di scienze storiche. X8 Congresso internazionale di Scienze storiche, Roma 4–11 Settembre 1955. Relazioni 5 (Storia contemporanea). Florence, 1955: 175–239.

[6]Ross Hoffman, “Europe and the Atlantic Community,” Thought, 20 (1945); William O’Reilly, “Genealogies of Atlantic History,” 68.

[7]Herbert Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943); C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955); Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956). E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Pantheon Books, 1964). Eric Hobsbawm, Labouring Men: Studies in the History of Labor (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1964); Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (New York: Schocken Books,1964).

[8]Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: MA: Belknap Press, 1967);  Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1972);  Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction (New York: Alfred A. Knopt, 1986).

[9]Jack Greene and Philip Morgan ed., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal, 6; Bernard Bailyn, Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986).

[10]Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours, 61; Alison Games, Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999). 187.

[11]John Hobson, Imperialism: A Study (London: Cosimo, 1902); Rudolf Hilferding, Das Finanzkapital (Vienna, Wiener Volksbuchhandlung,1910); Vladimir Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (Moscow: Zhizn’ I znanie, 1917); Otto Bauer, Social Democracy and the Nationalities Question (Vienna: Wiener Volksbuchhandlung, 1924).

[12]Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Kritik der Politischen Okonomie (Hamburg: Verlag von Otto Meisner, 1867); Eric Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels (New York: W.W. Norton, 1959). Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll (New York: Vintage Books, 1976). Marcel van der Linden, “Labour History as the History of the Multitudes,” Labour/Le Travail, 52 (2003): 235-243.

[13]Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange, 106; Jopseh Alois Schumpeter, “The Sociology of Imperialisms,” Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 46 (Tubingen: Germany, 1919). Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System, vol. 1: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Academic Press, 1975).

[14]David Armitage, Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Peter Mancall, Hakluy’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

[15]Carla Pestana, The English Atlantic in the Age of Revolution, 1640-1661(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004); Yann Moulier Boutand, De I ‘esclavage au salariat. Economie historique du salariat bride  (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1998).

[16]David Armitage, “The Red Atlantic,” Reviews in American History, 29, no. 4 (Dec., 2001): 479-486. Jesse Lemisch, “Jack Tar in the Streets: Merchant Seamen in the Politics of Revolutionary America,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 25, no. 3 (July. 1968): 371-407.

[17]Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000); Marcus Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2004).

[18]E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class; Bernard Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in Seventeenth-Century English Millenarianism (Totowa, NJ: Rowan and Littlefi eld, 1972); Brian Manning, Aristocrats, Plebeians, and Revolution in England, 1640–1660 (London: Pluto, 1996); Christopher Hill, Reformation to Industrial Revolution: The Making of Modern English Society, 1530–1780 (New York: Pantheon, 1968).

[19]Karen Kupperman, Providence Island, 1630-1641(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000); Daniel Richter, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). Allan Gallay ed. Indian Slavery in Colonial America (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009); Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Marcus Rediker, Villains of All Nations; Robert Ritchie, Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986).

[20]Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America (New York: New York University Press, 2008); Alexander Olivier Exquemelin, De Americaensche Zee-Roovers (Amsterdam: Jan Ten Hoorn, 1678); Nicholas P. Canny, “The Ideology of English Colonization: From Ireland to America,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 30, no. 4 (Oct., 1973): 575-598; Stephanie Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007).

[21]John Donoghue, Fire under the Ashes: An Atlantic History of the English Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013); Denver Brunsman, The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013).

[22]Jill Lepore, New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (New York: Vintage Books, 2005).

[23]Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944); Philip D. Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969); Joseph Inikori and Stanley Engerman (ed.), The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies, and Peoples in Africa, the Americas, and Europe (Durham: Duke University Press, 1992); John Fage, “The Effect of the Slave Trade on African Population, in The Population Factor in African Studies, edited by R.J.A.R. Rathbone and R.P. Moss, 15-23; James A. Rawley and Stephen D. Behrendt, The Transatlantic Slave Trade: A History, Revised Edition (Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2005); David Eltis and David Richardson, “The Numbers Game,” in The Atlantic Slave Trade, edited by David Northrup, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002); Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History (New York: Viking Press, 2007), 239; Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992).

[24]Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History; N.A.M Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (New York: W.W. Norton, 1986); Robin Law, Ouidah: The Social History of a West African Slaving Port, 1727-1892 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2004); Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1977); Emma Christopher, Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Joseph Miller, Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1988).

[25]David B. Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Peter Colclanis, “Beyond Atlantic History.” In Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal, 337-356. Sarah Pearsall, Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 14.