The Atlantic World Economic System Essay

The Atlantic World Economic System Essay

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To a large extent the Atlantic World economic system was fundamental in causing or at least accelerating the British Industrial Revolution. However, there were other elements that contributed to the Atlantic World economic system’s success.

The Industrial Revolution was a time of great economic prosperity and technological advancement in Europe. Between 1550 and 1850, Britain made a shift from a mainly agrarian subsistent economy to an urbanised, large-scale mechanised manufacturing one. The Atlantic World economic system is a term used by Joseph Inikori to explain the triangular trade between Western Europe, Western Africa and the Americas through the Atlantic Ocean.

There was a massive shift in the regional structure of manufacturing and wealth in England by the late seventeenth century. The Southern states, which relied heavily on trade with other Western European countries, had stagnated and the demand for goods, particularly woolen textiles, had declined from £1.5 million to £1 million due to these countries developing their own industries. In contrast parts of the North, which had previously been backward and vastly underdeveloped, were now thriving and it is there that the Industrial Revolution began. The Lancashire textile industry was a primary example of economic success. Unlike the Southern states, the North had become considerably involved in the Atlantic trade. By this time America was supplying more than three-quarters of all imports mainly due to the ability of keeping unit cost of production low. This meant large-scale production with a large, inexpensive labour force was required; forced labour, therefore was the only viable option. These factors reduced the price per pound of raw cotton from 16¼ pence to...


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...pment of coal and steam based energy developed largely autonomously from the Atlantic system and the Industrial Revolution would have most likely begun without the Atlantic trade system even if slavery had been abolished two centuries earlier than when it had been. However, development of these technologies was most likely a result of an influx in demand for manufactured goods and the increased availability of cheap raw materials, made possible by slave labour. The need for these inventions may therefore have been unnecessary if it were not for the Atlantic trade system.

Based on my above-mentioned argument, it is evident that the Atlantic World Economic system played a vital role in causing the British Industrial Revolution. Although it is likely that it may have happened without the Atlantic trade it is unlikely it would have happened at the same pace or level.

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