Germans in the Atlantic World

Philip Otterness

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online August 2011 | | DOI:
Germans in the Atlantic World

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The scope of the German Atlantic world is somewhat limited when compared to the Atlantic worlds created by the colonial empires of Spain, France, Britain, Portugal, and the Netherlands. There was of course no centralized German state in the 17th and 18th centuries (the period usually encompassed in Atlantic world histories). Prussia and Austria, the two most powerful of the hundreds of German-speaking principalities of central Europe, looked eastward rather than westward when formulating their foreign policies, and the people living in these states also tended to move to the east rather than across the Atlantic. The German-speaking people who did look across the Atlantic did not have the opportunities or advantages that would have existed in a colonial empire operated by a German state. Rather, they were primarily migrants, often peasants from the Rhineland region of the German Southwest who went to British North America in search of economic opportunity. Others were motivated more by religion and the chance to establish religious communities free from the restraints they faced in Europe. Whether they moved for economic or religious reasons, their story involved encounters with other migrants and Native Americans and the gradual creation of new communities in America. Besides the many migrants, German-speaking merchants and traders also sought a place for themselves in the Atlantic world. Although the lives of some of these merchants are set forth in the works listed in this bibliography, a more extensive account of their activities can be found in the Oxford Bibliographies Online article Atlantic Trade and the European Economy.

Article.  7941 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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