ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Social and Economic Changes in the Atlantic World from 1492-1750 AD

Updated on March 3, 2013


From 1492 to 1750 the Atlantic World, which includes all of the continents whose borders touch the Atlantic Ocean, saw great change as explorers began to settle new worlds and trade expanded. Connections between Europe, Africa, and the Americas brought change socially and economically through the expansion of trade, including both human and inhuman commodities, and the natural gains and consequences of claiming a new world as your own.

Social Impacts

The Atlantic world was turned on its head socially due to the slave trade, expansion of trade, and the discovery of the new world. In Africa, slavery had already occurred. With the spread of Islam came Muslim merchants who would capture Africans and sell them throughout Arabia and the Indian Ocean at Islamic controlled trading ports. However, Africa’s new found connections with Europe and the Americas caused the slave trade to expand greatly. This time it was not foreigners who were capturing Africans but Africans themselves, who had made deals with slave traders in the New World and Europe. Often, local political leaders were involved. These underhanded political practices wreaked havoc socially. Members of royal families vied for control of captured slaves causing brutal and constant civil war, taking a nearly unbearable toll on the African people. In England, trade connections with Africa and the Americas caught the interest of Western Europe’s wealthy. Previously, agriculture and farming were jobs reserved for peasants, but since trade had become such a lucrative opportunity the upper class began to buy up land and start their own farms, hiring tenants to cultivate and sell their goods for them. Taking farming out of the hands of peasants and into the hands of the wealthy is what started what historians call “commercializing the country side. ”In America, social changes occurred through the assimilation of the Native Americans. European conquerors unwittingly brought with them diseases to which the Native Americans were not immune, killing a portion of the population. Along with disease Europeans also brought innovations the likes of which Native Americans had never seen before, including steel weapons. All of these things, the slave trade, commercialization of the countryside, and Native American assimilation contributed to societal changes in the Atlantic World.

Economic Effects

The Atlantic world was not only affected socially due to new global connections with trade and exploration, it was also affected economically. The merchants and political leaders who participated in the slave trade received European goods in return, such as tobacco, alcohol, and guns. Also because of the slave trade, the main source of money moved from rural areas of Africa to ports, where merchants maintained most of the wealth in the area. In Western Europe, trade with the America’s and Africa created a necessity for new innovations. The Dutch came through with a new type of boat they called a fluitschip. Conveniently, fluitschips were able to transport very heavy commodities like never before and with less crew. From this, the Dutch invented rudimentary forms of banking, stock exchange, and insurance for cargo. All of these economic changes occurred because of Europe’s connections to the rest of the Atlantic world. In America, European conquerors found what they were looking for: gold. Exploiting the surrounding tribes of Native Americans these European conquerors harvested all the gold they could find and killed anyone standing in their way. While this brought great riches to Spain it showed Spanish conquistadors in a barbaric and morally repugnant light. However, this did not stop them and they continued to wipe out entire civilizations up into Mesoamerica for gold and other riches. New connections through trade and exploration in the Atlantic world caused change economically by shifting the source of wealth in Africa, inspiring innovation in Europe, and giving Spain an incredible source of precious metals.


The Atlantic World, including the Americas, Europe, and Africa saw great change because of newfound connections between one another. The slave trade, other forms of trade, and the discovery and exploration of new worlds all contributed to social and economic change from 1492 to 1750.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)