The atlantic economys contribution to the industrial revolution In addition, the bullion trade with the Americas created a concentration of capital that allowed for the economies of scale required for the promotion of the specialization of labor and large-scale investments. While all these components contributed to the Industrial Revolution, they were in fact small contributions that hastened and enforced the Revolution, but were not the primary cause.Transportation was instrumental in stimulating trade in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution, but may of made only small contributions to the overall economy. Bristol, during the 17th century was the central hub for the voyage to the Americas. While by 1630 there were relatively few vessels making the trans-Atlantic crossing to the American plantations, by the turn of the 18th century this number would swell to over half of the vessels leaving the port (Sacks). These ships were bound for Virginia, the West Indies, or Newfoundland, and by 1700 commercial American sugar and tobacco had become a trading staple (Sacks). Certainly trade was important for Britain during this period for raw materials as well as exports of goods to the slave driven plantation system. However, even as late as 1790, after the Industrial Revolution was well under way, the Americas only accounted for 18% of European exports, while exports to Africa to support the slave trade amounted to only 1% (O’Brien, 4). The real growth in trade would not take place until the 1840s when Clipper Ships were able to make more voyages and handle more fragile cargo (Jones). Trade and transportation to the Americas may have contributed to the growing export market, but was not a major cause for the Industrial Revolution.While the export market had only a marginal effect, the importation of agricultural products may have been even less significant. The agricultural processes necessary to support a growing urban population had been in effect well before the discovery of the Americas. In addition, raw materials needed to sustain long-term production and growth were already available in Europe. According to O’Brien, sugar and cotton had been transplanted to Italy, Iberia, and Southern France prior to 1492 (11). The introduction of maize from the Americas would have no substantial impact on the English diet until the middle 19th century after the Industrial Revolution had been under way for some decades (O’Brien, 11). More important to the Industrial Revolution than raw materials was the mercantilist system of protections and the reservation of the final processing into finished goods (Darity, 165). This assured that capital would continue to flow into Europe. Raw materials and the foodstuffs necessary to sustain the factory system and an exploding population were all available outside the Atlantic economy well before the Industrial Revolution.The formulation of the Industrial Revolution demanded a ready supply of capital for investment. Bullion from the Americas created a hard international currency, but it was not been instrumental in developing concentrated capital. The large-scale introduction of precious metals from the Americas resulted in a high rate of inflation.
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