On the Water

Living in the Atlantic World

Over nearly four centuries, Atlantic-based trade shaped modern world history and life in America.

Maritime commerce connected the peoples and nations that rimmed the Atlantic in a web of trade, conquest, settlement, and slavery. Europeans carved out vast new colonies in the Americas. From gold to sugar, the resources of the New World transformed European societies. The transatlantic slave trade carried millions of Africans westward to lives of labor and suffering. Ships and sailors helped create a complex new world with maritime commerce at its core.