xivPr eface
In other cases, however, the movement from place to place is harder to see. The
Protestant Reformation, for example, was a Eu­ro­pean event. But its consequences ­
were far reaching, structuring the way Eu­ ro ­ pean empires competed with each other
for colonies in the New World, shaping the experience of ­people, from the Puri-
tans to the Jesuits—­who migrated to the Amer­i­cas for religious reasons—­and
changing the lives of Natives and Africans who encountered Chris­tian­ity in the
New World.
Historians need to periodize their works, to choose a beginning and an end, con-
scious though they are that all beginning and ending dates are, at some level, arbi-
trary. History always has an antecedent; history always has consequences. Scholars
of the Atlantic world generally agree on a starting point: the fifteenth ­ century. ­After
all, the voyage of Christopher Columbus began the pro­cess of encounter across the
Atlantic in its many va­ ri ­ e ­ ties. Columbus, though most famous, was not the first to
voyage out across the ocean. He was not even first to reach the Amer­ i ­ cas, the
Vikings having preceded him to North Amer­ i ­ ca. Similarly, Eu­ ro ­ pe­ans had begun
pushing to the south earlier in the fifteenth ­ century, with Portugal achieving sig-
nificant breakthroughs in contacting lands along the African coast on the way to
finding a ­ water route to India. The encyclopedia thus starts in 1400 to capture the
first moves in the Atlantic world, the moves that allowed Columbus to make his
world changing discovery in 1492. What is more, a few entries push the chronol-
ogy back even further, to show developments shaping how Eu­ ro ­ pe­ans, Native
Americans, and Africans would act once they came in contact with each other.
Atlantic scholars have less agreement on an endpoint for Atlantic history. Most
often, they choose the early nineteenth ­century. In this view, the Age of Revolu-
tion, ranging from the American Revolution of the late eigh­teenth ­ century to the
Latin American Wars of In­de­pen­dence of the early nineteenth ­century, marked a
decisive change in Atlantic relations. The Atlantic world was a world brought
together by the drive for empire as Eu­ro­pean powers brought more and more ter-
ritory ­under their sway. The revolutions, however, struck against empire. Colonies
became in­de­pen­dent. The ties that had bound Eu­rope to the Amer­i­cas unraveled.
It is a strong argument. Nevertheless, other connections, beyond imperial ones,
persisted in the Atlantic world, surviving the in­de­pen­dence of former colonies. To
take the most obvious example, slavery—­a cornerstone of the Atlantic world—­
persisted long into the nineteenth ­ century. Slavery was abolished by the United
States in 1865, by Puerto Rico in 1873, by Cuba in 1886, and by Brazil in 1888;
more than 60 years ­after Brazil achieved its in­de­pen­dence from Portugal. The Ency-
clopedia of the Atlantic World embraces the broader approach to the chronology of
the Atlantic world. It includes entries on topics throughout the nineteenth ­ century,
with a few looking ahead to the twentieth ­century and making connections to our
world ­ today.
Including 220 entries, the Encyclopedia of the Atlantic World also offers student
and interested nonspecialist readers a detailed Introduction to Atlantic history
between 1400 and 1900, a useful Select Bibliography, a Chronology, and a Guide
to Related Topics that breaks entries down in broad categories. All entries include
See also cross-­references to related topics, and many entries also include sidebars
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