The Info List - Thirteen Colonies

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The THIRTEEN COLONIES were a group of British colonies on the east coast of North America
North America
founded in the 17th and 18th centuries that declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States
United States
of America . The Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems, and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World
New World
, which also included colonies in Canada and the Caribbean, as well as East and West Florida
West Florida

In the 18th century, the British government operated its colonies under a policy of mercantilism , in which the central government administered its possessions for the economic benefit of the mother country. However, the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
had a high degree of self-governance and active local elections, and resisted London's demands for more control. In the 1750s, the colonies began collaborating with one another instead of dealing directly with Britain. These inter-colonial activities cultivated a sense of shared American identity and led to calls for protection of the colonists' "Rights as Englishmen ", especially the principle of "no taxation without representation ". Grievances with the British government led to the American Revolution
American Revolution
, in which the colonies collaborated in forming a Continental Congress
Continental Congress
which declared independence in 1776 and fought the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
(1775–83) with the aid of France , the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
, and Spain.


* 1 The Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies

* 1.1 New England colonies * 1.2 Middle colonies * 1.3 Southern colonies

* 2 History

* 2.1 17th century

* 2.1.1 Southern colonies * 2.1.2 New England
New England
* 2.1.3 Middle Colonies

* 2.2 Early 18th century * 2.3 French and Indian War
French and Indian War
* 2.4 Growing dissent * 2.5 American Revolution
American Revolution

* 3 Population

* 3.1 Slaves * 3.2 Religion * 3.3 Education

* 4 Government

* 4.1 Forms of government * 4.2 British role * 4.3 Self-government * 4.4 Economic policy

* 5 Other British colonies * 6 Historiography * 7 See also * 8 Notes

* 9 Further reading

* 9.1 Government * 9.2 Primary sources * 9.3 Online primary sources

* 10 External links


The first permanently settled English colony on the North American continent was the Colony and Dominion of Virginia , established 1607. The number of 13 was complete with the establishment of the Province of Georgia in 1732, although the term "Thirteen Colonies" became current only in the context of the American Revolution
American Revolution


Main article: New England colonies

* Province of New Hampshire
Province of New Hampshire
,established in the 1620s, chartered as crown colony in 1679 * Province of Massachusetts Bay
Province of Massachusetts Bay
, a crown colony established 1692 * Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations , established 1636, chartered as crown colony in 1663 * Connecticut Colony
Connecticut Colony
, established 1636, chartered as crown colony in 1662


Main article: Middle Colonies

* Province of New York
Province of New York
, later New York and Vermont
, proprietary colony 1664–85, crown colony from 1686 * Province of New Jersey
Province of New Jersey
, proprietary colony from 1664, crown colony from 1702 * Province of Pennsylvania , a proprietary colony established 1681 * Delaware Colony (before 1776, the Lower Counties on Delaware), a proprietary colony established 1664


Main article: Southern Colonies
Southern Colonies

* Province of Maryland
Province of Maryland
, a proprietary colony established 1632 * Colony and Dominion of Virginia , later Virginia
and Kentucky
(and West Virginia
following the American Civil War
American Civil War
), a crown colony established 1607 * Province of North Carolina , later North Carolina
North Carolina
and Tennessee
, a crown colony established 1712 * Province of South Carolina , a crown colony established 1712 * Province of Georgia
Province of Georgia
, later Georgia plus northern sections of Alabama
and Mississippi
, a crown colony established 1732


See also: Colonial history of the United States
United States
, British colonization of the Americas , and Timeline of Colonial America


The 1606 grants by James I to the London
and Plymouth companies. The overlapping area (yellow) was granted to both companies on the stipulation that neither found a settlement within 100 miles (160 km) of each other. The location of the Jamestown Settlement is shown by "J"

Southern Colonies

The first successful English colony was Jamestown , established May 14, 1607 near Chesapeake Bay . The business venture was financed and coordinated by the London
Company , a joint stock company looking for gold. Its first years were extremely difficult, with very high death rates from disease and starvation, wars with local Indians, and little gold. The colony survived and flourished by turning to tobacco as a cash crop .

In 1632, King Charles I granted the charter for Province of Maryland to Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
. Calvert's father had been a prominent Catholic official who encouraged Catholic immigration to the English colonies. The charter offered no guidelines on religion, although it was assumed that Catholics would not be molested in the new colony.

The Province of Carolina was the first attempted English settlement south of Virginia. It was a private venture, financed by a group of English Lords Proprietors who obtained a Royal Charter
Royal Charter
to the Carolinas in 1663, hoping that a new colony in the south would become profitable like Jamestown. Carolina was not settled until 1670, and even then the first attempt failed because there was no incentive for emigration to that area. Eventually, however, the Lords combined their remaining capital and financed a settlement mission to the area led by Sir John Colleton . The expedition located fertile and defensible ground at what became Charleston , originally Charles Town for Charles II of England .

New England

The Pilgrims were a small group of Puritan separatists who felt that they needed to physically distance themselves themselves from the corrupt Church of England. After initially moving to the Netherlands, they decided to re-establish themselves in America. The initial Pilgrim settlers sailed to North America
North America
in 1620 on the Mayflower
. Upon their arrival, they drew up the Mayflower
Compact , by which they bound themselves together as a united community, thus establishing the small Plymouth Colony
Plymouth Colony
. William Bradford was their main leader. After its founding, other settlers traveled from England to join the colony.

The non-separatist Puritans constituted a much larger group than the Pilgrims, and they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
in 1629 with 400 settlers. They sought to reform the Church of England
Church of England
by creating a new, pure church in the New World. By 1640, 20,000 had arrived ; many died soon after arrival, but the others found a healthy climate and an ample food supply. The Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies together spawned other Puritan colonies in New England, including the New Haven , Saybrook , and Connecticut colonies. During the 17th century, the New Haven and Saybrook colonies were absorbed by Connecticut.

Providence Plantation was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams on land provided by Narragansett sachem Canonicus . Williams was a Puritan who preached religious tolerance, separation of Church and State , and a complete break with the Church of England. He was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
over theological disagreements, and he and other settlers founded Providence Plantation based on an egalitarian constitution providing for majority rule "in civil things" and "liberty of conscience" in religious matters. In 1637, a second group including Anne Hutchinson
Anne Hutchinson
established a second settlement on Aquidneck Island
Aquidneck Island
, also known as Rhode Island.

Other colonists settled to the north, mingling with adventurers and profit-oriented settlers to establish more religiously diverse colonies in New Hampshire and Maine . These small settlements were absorbed by Massachusetts when it made significant land claims in the 1640s and 1650s, but New Hampshire was eventually given a separate charter in 1679. Maine remained a part of Massachusetts until achieving statehood in 1820.

In 1686, King James II of England
James II of England
consolidated the New England colonies into Dominion of New England
Dominion of New England
. In 1688, the colonies of New York, West Jersey, and East Jersey were added to the dominion. The dominion was disestablished in 1689, after the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
, and the former colonies were re-established.

Middle Colonies

After the Second Anglo-Dutch War , the Dutch colony of New Netherland was taken over by the British and renamed New York. However, large numbers of Dutch remained in the colony, dominating the rural areas between New York City and Albany. Meanwhile, Yankees from New England started moving in, as did immigrants from Germany. New York City attracted a large polyglot population, including a large black slave population. In 1674, the proprietary colonies of East Jersey and West Jersey were created from lands formerly part of New York.

was founded in 1681 as a proprietary colony of Quaker William Penn
William Penn
. The main population elements included Quaker population based in Philadelphia, a Scotch Irish population on the Western frontier, and numerous German colonies in between. Philadelphia became the largest city in the colonies with its central location, excellent port, and a population of about 30,000.


In 1702, East and West Jersey were combined to form the Province of New Jersey .

Due to their remoteness from each other, the northern and southern sections of the Carolina colony operated more or less independently until 1691, when Philip Ludwell was appointed governor of the entire province. From that time until 1708, the northern and southern settlements remained under one government. However, during this period, the two halves of the province began increasingly to be known as North Carolina
North Carolina
and South Carolina. In 1712, Carolina was divided into two colonies: the Province of South Carolina and the Province of North Carolina
North Carolina

In the 1730s, James Oglethorpe , a Member of Parliament , proposed that the area south of the Carolinas be colonized with the "worthy poor" of England, to provide an alternative to the overcrowded debtors' prisons. Oglethorpe and other English philanthropists secured a royal charter as the Trustees of the colony of Georgia on June 9, 1732.


The French and Indian War
French and Indian War
(1754–1763) was the American extension of the general European conflict known as the Seven Years\' War . Previous colonial wars in North America
North America
had started in Europe and then spread to the colonies, but the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
is notable for having started in North America
North America
and spread to Europe. One of the primary causes of the war was increasing competition between Britain and France, especially in the Great Lakes and Ohio valley.

The French and Indian War
French and Indian War
took on a new significance for the British North American colonists when William Pitt the Elder decided that major military resources needed to be devoted to North America
North America
in order to win the war against France. For the first time, the continent became one of the main theaters of what could be termed a "world war ". During the war, the position of the British colonies as part of the British Empire was made truly apparent, as British military and civilian officials took on an increased presence in the lives of Americans.

The war also increased a sense of American unity in other ways. It caused men to travel across the continent who might otherwise have never left their own colony, fighting alongside men from decidedly different backgrounds who were nonetheless still "American". Throughout the course of the war, British officers trained American ones for battle, most notably George Washington
George Washington
, which benefitted the American cause during the Revolution. Also, colonial legislatures and officials had to cooperate intensively, for the first time, in pursuit of the continent-wide military effort. The relations between the British military establishment and the colonists were not always positive, setting the stage for later distrust and dislike of British troops. Territorial changes following the French and Indian War: land held by the British before 1763 is shown in red, land gained by Britain in 1763 is shown in pink.

In the Treaty of Paris (1763)
Treaty of Paris (1763)
, France formally ceded to Britain the eastern part of its vast North American empire, having secretly given to Spain the territory of Louisiana west of the Mississippi
River the previous year. Before the war, Britain held the thirteen American colonies, most of present-day Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
, and most of the Hudson Bay watershed. Following the war, Britain gained all French territory east of the Mississippi
River, including Quebec, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio River
Ohio River
valley. Britain also gained Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
, from which it formed the colonies of East and West Florida
West Florida
. In removing a major foreign threat to the thirteen colonies, the war also largely removed the colonists' need of colonial protection.

The British and colonists triumphed jointly over a common foe. The colonists' loyalty to the mother country was stronger than ever before. However, disunity was beginning to form. British Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder had decided to wage the war in the colonies with the use of troops from the colonies and tax funds from Britain itself. This was a successful wartime strategy but, after the war was over, each side believed that it had borne a greater burden than the other. The British elite, the most heavily taxed of any in Europe, pointed out angrily that the colonists paid little to the royal coffers. The colonists replied that their sons had fought and died in a war that served European interests more than their own. This dispute was a link in the chain of events that soon brought about the American Revolution.


The British sought to maintain peaceful relations with those Indian tribes that had allied with the French, to keep them separated from the American frontiersmen. To this end, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 restricted settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
, as this was designated an Indian Reserve . Some groups of settlers disregarded the proclamation, continuing to move west and establish farms. The proclamation was soon modified and was no longer a hindrance to settlement, but the fact angered the colonists that it had been promulgated without their prior consultation. Join, or Die by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
was recycled to encourage the former colonies to unite against British rule.

insisted on the principle of "no taxation without representation " beginning with the intense protests over the Stamp Act of 1765 , representation being understood in the context of Parliament directly levying the duty or excise tax, and thus by-passing the colonial legislatures, which had levied taxes on the colonies in the monarch's stead prior to 1763. They argued that the colonies had no representation in the British Parliament, so it was a violation of their rights as Englishmen for taxes to be imposed upon them. The other British colonies that had assemblies largely agreed with those in the Thirteen Colonies, but they were thoroughly controlled by the British Empire and the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
, so protests were hopeless.

Parliament rejected the colonial protests and asserted its authority by passing new taxes. Trouble escalated over the tea tax, as Americans in each colony boycotted the tea, and those in Boston dumped the tea in the harbor during the Boston Tea Party
Boston Tea Party
in 1773. Tensions escalated in 1774 as Parliament passed the laws known as the Intolerable Acts , which greatly restricted self-government in the colony of Massachusetts, among other things.


Map of the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
in 1775

In response, the colonies formed extralegal bodies of elected representatives, generally known as Provincial Congresses . Colonists emphasized their determination by boycotting imports of British merchandise. Later in 1774, twelve colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress
Continental Congress
in Philadelphia
. During the Second Continental Congress
Continental Congress
, the thirteenth colony (Georgia) sent delegates, as well. By spring 1775, all royal officials had been expelled from all thirteen colonies. The Continental Congress
Continental Congress
became a national government. It raised an army to fight the British and named George Washington its commander, made treaties, declared independence, and recommended that the colonies write constitutions and become states. In 1776, the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
declared their independence from Britain. With the help of France and Spain, the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War. In the 1783 Treaty of Paris , Britain recognized the independence of Thirteen Colonies, which became known as the United States.


Population of the American colonies YEAR POPULATION

1625 1,980

1641 50,000

1688 200,000

1702 270,000

1715 435,000

1749 1,000,000

1754 1,500,000

1765 2,200,000

1775 2,400,000

The colonial population rose to a quarter of a million during the 17th century, and to nearly 2.5 million on the eve of the American revolution. Perkins (1988) notes the importance of good health for the growth of the colonies: "Fewer deaths among the young meant that a higher proportion of the population reached reproductive age, and that fact alone helps to explain why the colonies grew so rapidly." There were, of course, many other reasons for the population growth besides good health, such as the Great Migration .

By 1776, about 85% of the population were derived from the British Isles (English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh), with 9% of German origin and 4% Dutch . Over 90% were farmers, with several small cities that were also seaports linking the colonial economy to the larger British Empire. These populations continued to grow at a rapid rate during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, primarily because of high birth rates and relatively low death rates. Immigration was a minor factor from 1774 to 1830.


Main article: Slavery in the colonial United States
United States

Slavery was legal and practiced in many of the Thirteen Colonies. In most places, it involved house servants or farm workers. It was of economic importance in the export-oriented tobacco plantations of Virginia
and Maryland
and on the rice and indigo plantations of South Carolina. About 287,000 slaves were imported into the Thirteen Colonies over a period of 160 years, or 2% of the estimated 12 million taken from Africa to the Americas via the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
. The great majority went to sugar colonies in the Caribbean and to Brazil, where life expectancy was short and the numbers had to be continually replenished. By the mid-18th century, life expectancy was much higher in the American colonies.

Slaves imported into Colonial America 1620–1700 1701–1760 1761–1770 1771–1780 TOTAL

21,000 189,000 63,000 15,000 287,000

The numbers grew rapidly through a very high birth rate and low mortality rate, reaching nearly four million by the 1860 census . From 1770 until 1860, the rate of natural growth of North American slaves was much greater than for the population of any nation in Europe, and was nearly twice as rapid as that in England.


was the predominant religion in the Thirteen Colonies. There were also adherents of Judaism
and deism , as well as irreligious people.

The colonies were religiously diverse, with numerous Protestant denominations brought by British, German, Dutch, and other immigrants. Christianity
was especially strong in New England, as well as in many German and Dutch settlements. The Church of England
Church of England
was officially established in most of the South , but its Anglican
churches were often controlled by local planters, in a belt stretching from Virginia as far as Georgia, and its enemies blocked the appointment of bishops.

The Reformed tradition was supported by Puritans in New England, who felt that the Church of England
Church of England
was not sufficiently reformed. It was brought in its various Presbyterian
, Congregationalist
, and Continental Reformed varieties. The Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
was popular among Dutch Americans , and Lutheranism
was prevalent among German immigrants . They also brought diverse forms of Anabaptism
, especially the Amish
variety. Quakers
founded Pennsylvania
, and Baptist
preacher Roger Williams founded Providence Plantations which became Rhode Island
Rhode Island
. Roman Catholics and Jews
also arrived, and English Catholics founded Maryland


Higher education was available for young men in the North, and most students were aspiring Protestant ministers. The oldest colleges were Harvard College
Harvard College
, College of New Jersey (Princeton) , Yale College
Yale College
, and College of Rhode Island
Rhode Island
(Brown) . Others were King\'s College (Columbia) , the College of Philadelphia
(University of Pennsylvania) , and Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College
in New Hampshire. South of Philadelphia, there was only the College of William and Mary
College of William and Mary
which trained the secular elite in Virginia, especially aspiring lawyers.

Most New England
New England
towns sponsored public schools for boys, but public schooling was rare elsewhere. Girls were educated at home or by small local private schools, and they had no access to college. Aspiring physicians and lawyers typically learned as apprentices to an established practitioner, although some young men went to medical schools in Scotland.


Main article: Colonial government in the Thirteen Colonies


The three forms of colonial government in 1776 were provincial (royal colony ), proprietary, and charter. These governments were all subordinate to the King of England, with no explicit relationship with the British Parliament . Beginning late in the 17th century, the administration of all British colonies was overseen by the Board of Trade in London.

The provincial colony was governed by commissions created at pleasure of the king. A governor and (in some provinces) his council were appointed by the crown. The governor was invested with general executive powers and authorized to call a locally elected assembly. The governor's council would sit as an upper house when the assembly was in session, in addition to its role in advising the governor. Assemblies were made up of representatives elected by the freeholders and planters (landowners) of the province. The governor had the power of absolute veto and could prorogue (i.e., delay) and dissolve the assembly. The assembly's role was to make all local laws and ordinances, ensuring that they were not inconsistent with the laws of England. In practice, this did not always occur, since many of the provincial assemblies sought to expand their powers and limit those of the governor and crown. Laws could be examined by the British Privy Council or Board of Trade, which also held veto power of legislation. New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and eventually Massachusetts were crown colonies.

Proprietary colonies were governed much as royal colonies except that lord proprietors, rather than the king, appointed the governor. They were set up after the Restoration of 1660 and typically enjoyed greater civil and religious liberty. Pennsylvania
(which included Delaware), New Jersey, and Maryland
were proprietary colonies.

Charter governments were political corporations created by letters patent , giving the grantees control of the land and the powers of legislative government. The charters provided a fundamental constitution and divided powers among legislative, executive, and judicial functions, with those powers being vested in officials. Massachusetts, Providence Plantation, Rhode Island, Warwick, and Connecticut were charter colonies. The Massachusetts charter was revoked in 1684 and was replaced by a provincial charter that was issued in 1691.


After 1680, the royal government in London
took an increasing interest in the affairs of the colonies, which were growing rapidly in population and wealth. In 1680, only Virginia
was a royal colony; by 1720, half were under the control of royal governors. These governors were appointees closely tied to the government in London.

Historians before the 1880s emphasized American nationalism. However, scholarship after that time was heavily influenced by the "Imperial school" led by Herbert L. Osgood , George Louis Beer , Charles McLean Andrews , and Lawrence H. Gipson . This viewpoint dominated colonial historiography into the 1940s, and they emphasized and often praised the attention that London
gave to all the colonies. In this view, there was never a threat (before the 1770s) that any colony would revolt or seek independence.


British settlers did not come to the American colonies with the intention of creating a democratic system; yet they quickly created a broad electorate without a land-owning aristocracy, along with a pattern of free elections which put a strong emphasis on voter participation. The colonies offered a much freer degree of suffrage than England or indeed any other country. Any property owner could vote for members of the lower house of the legislature, and they could even vote for the governor in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Voters were required to hold an "interest" in society; as the South Carolina legislature said in 1716, "it is necessary and reasonable, that none but such persons will have an interest in the Province should be capable to elect members of the Commons House of Assembly". The main legal criterion for having an "interest" was ownership of real estate property, which was uncommon in Britain, where 19 out of 20 men were controlled politically by their landlords. (Women, children, indentured servants, and slaves were subsumed under the interest of the family head.) London
insisted on this requirement for the colonies, telling governors to exclude from the ballot men who were not freeholders—that is, those who did not own land. Nevertheless, land was so widely owned that 50% to 80% of the men were eligible to vote.

The colonial political culture emphasized deference, so that local notables were the men who ran and were chosen. But sometimes they competed with each other and had to appeal to the common man for votes. There were no political parties, and would-be legislators formed ad-hoc coalitions of their families, friends, and neighbors. Outside of Puritan New England, election day brought in all the men from the countryside to the county seat to make merry, politick, shake hands with the grandees, meet old friends, and hear the speeches—all the while toasting, eating, treating, tippling, and gambling. They voted by shouting their choice to the clerk, as supporters cheered or booed. Candidate George Washington
George Washington
spent £39 for treats for his supporters. The candidates knew that they had to "swill the planters with bumbo" (rum). Elections were carnivals where all men were equal for one day and traditional restraints were relaxed.

The actual rate of voting ranged from 20% to 40% of all adult males. The rates were higher in Pennsylvania
and New York, where long-standing factions based on ethnic and religious groups mobilized supporters at a higher rate. New York and Rhode Island
Rhode Island
developed long-lasting two-faction systems that held together for years at the colony level, but they did not reach into local affairs. The factions were based on the personalities of a few leaders and an array of family connections, and they had little basis in policy or ideology. Elsewhere the political scene was in a constant whirl, based on personality rather than long-lived factions or serious disputes on issues.

The colonies were independent of one other long before 1774; indeed, all the colonies began as separate and unique settlements or plantations. Further, efforts had failed to form a colonial union through the Albany Congress of 1754 led by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
. The thirteen all had well-established systems of self-government and elections based on the Rights of Englishmen which they were determined to protect from imperial interference.


The British Empire at the time operated under the mercantile system , where all trade was concentrated inside the Empire, and trade with other empires was forbidden. The goal was to enrich Britain—its merchants and its government. Whether the policy was good for the colonists was not an issue in London, but Americans
became increasingly restive with mercantilist policies.

meant that the government and the merchants became partners with the goal of increasing political power and private wealth, to the exclusion of other empires. The government protected its merchants—and kept others out—by trade barriers, regulations, and subsidies to domestic industries in order to maximize exports from and minimize imports to the realm. The government had to fight smuggling—which became a favorite American technique in the 18th century to circumvent the restrictions on trading with the French, Spanish or Dutch. The tactic used by mercantilism was to run trade surpluses, so that gold and silver would pour into London. The government took its share through duties and taxes, with the remainder going to merchants in Britain. The government spent much of its revenue on a superb Royal Navy
Royal Navy
, which not only protected the British colonies but threatened the colonies of the other empires, and sometimes seized them. Thus the British Navy captured New Amsterdam (New York) in 1664. The colonies were captive markets for British industry, and the goal was to enrich the mother country.

Britain implemented mercantilism by trying to block American trade with the French, Spanish, or Dutch empires using the Navigation Acts , which Americans
avoided as often as they could. The royal officials responded to smuggling with open-ended search warrants (Writs of Assistance ). In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis argued that the writs violated the constitutional rights of the colonists. He lost the case, but John Adams later wrote, "Then and there the child Independence was born."

However, the colonists took pains to argue that they did not oppose British regulation of their external trade; they only opposed legislation which affected them internally.


Main article: British America British colonies in North America, c. 1750.

* Newfoundland * Nova Scotia * Thirteen Colonies * Bermuda * Bahamas
* British Honduras (was Spanish c. 1750: became British in 1798) * Jamaica
* British Leeward Islands and Barbados

Besides these thirteen colonies, Britain had another dozen in the New World . Those in the British West Indies
British West Indies
, Newfoundland , the Province of Quebec , Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
, Bermuda
, and East and West Florida
West Florida
remained loyal to the crown throughout the war (although Spain reacquired Florida before the war was over). There was a certain degree of sympathy with the Patriot cause in several of the other colonies, but their geographical isolation and the dominance of British naval power precluded any effective participation. The British crown had only recently acquired those lands, and many of the issues facing the Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
did not apply to them, especially in the case of Quebec and Florida.

At the time of the war Britain had seven other colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America: Newfoundland , Rupert\'s Land (the area around the Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
), Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, East Florida, West Florida, and the Province of Quebec. There were other colonies in the Americas as well, largely in the British West Indies. These colonies remained loyal to the crown.

Newfoundland stayed loyal to Britain without question. It was exempt from the Navigation Acts and shared none of the grievances of the continental colonies. It was tightly bound to Britain and controlled by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
and had no assembly that could voice grievances.

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
had a large Yankee
element that had recently arrived from New England, and shared the sentiments of the Americans
about demanding the rights of the British men. The royal government in Halifax reluctantly allowed the Yankees of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
a kind of "neutrality." In any case, the island-like geography and the presence of the major British naval base at Halifax made the thought of armed resistance impossible.

Quebec was inhabited by French Catholic settlers who came under British control in the previous decade. The Quebec Act of 1774 gave them formal cultural autonomy within the empire, and many priests feared the intense Protestantism
in New England. The American grievances over taxation had little relevance, and there was no assembly nor elections of any kind that could have mobilized any grievances. Even so, the Americans
offered membership in the new nation and sent a military expedition that failed to capture Canada in 1775. Most Canadians remained neutral but some joined the American cause.

In the West Indies the elected assemblies of Jamaica, Grenada
, and Barbados
formally declared their sympathies for the American cause and called for mediation, but the others were quite loyal. Britain carefully avoided antagonizing the rich owners of sugar plantations (many of whom lived in London); in turn the planters' greater dependence on slavery made them recognize the need for British military protection from possible slave revolts. The possibilities for overt action were sharply limited by the overwhelming power of Royal Navy in the islands. During the war there was some opportunistic trading with American ships.

In Bermuda
and the Bahamas
local leaders were angry at the food shortages caused by British blockade of American ports. There was increasing sympathy for the American cause, including smuggling, and both colonies were considered "passive allies" of the United States throughout the war. When an American naval squadron arrived in the Bahamas
to seize gunpowder, the colony gave no resistance at all.

East Florida and West Florida
West Florida
were territories transferred from Spain to Britain after the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
by treaty. The few British colonists there needed protection from attacks by Indians and Spanish privateers. After 1775, East Florida became a major base for the British war effort in the South, especially in the invasions of Georgia and South Carolina. However, Spain seized Pensacola in West Florida in 1781, then recovered both territories in the Treaty of Paris that ended the war in 1783. Spain ultimately transferred the Florida provinces to the United States
United States
in 1819.


Further information: Historiography of the British Empire

The first British empire centered on the 13 American colonies, which attracted large numbers of settlers from Britain. The "Imperial School" in the 1900s–1930s period took a favorable view of the benefits of empire, emphasizing its successful economic integration. The Imperial School included such historians as Herbert L. Osgood, George Louis Beer, Charles M. Andrews , and Lawrence Gipson .

The shock of Britain's defeat in 1783 caused a radical revision of their policies on colonialism, thereby producing what historians call the end of the First British Empire; of course, Britain still owned Canada and some islands in the West Indies. Ashley Jackson writes:

The first British Empire was largely destroyed by the loss of the American colonies, followed by a "swing to the east" and the foundation of a second British Empire based on commercial and territorial expansion in South Asia.

Much of the historiography concerns the reasons why the Americans rebelled in the 1770s and successfully broke away. Since the 1960s, the mainstream of historiography emphasizes the growth of American consciousness and nationalism, and its Republican value system in opposition to the aristocratic viewpoint of British leaders.

In the analysis of the coming of the Revolution, historians in recent decades have mostly used one of three approaches.

* The Atlantic history view places the American story in a broader context, including revolutions in France and Haiti. It tends to integrate the historiographies of the American Revolution
American Revolution
and the British Empire. * The " New social history " approach looks at community social structure to find cleavages that were magnified into colonial cleavages. * The ideological approach centers on Republicanism in the United States. Republicanism dictated that there would be no royalty or aristocracy or national church. It did permit continuation of the British common law, which American lawyers and jurists understood, approved of, and used in their everyday practice. Historians have examined how the rising American legal profession adapted the British common law to incorporate republicanism by selective revision of legal customs and by introducing more choice for courts.


* British Empire portal * United States
United States
portal * North America
North America

* Atlantic history * British America * British colonization of the Americas
British colonization of the Americas
* Colonial American military history * Colonial government in the Thirteen Colonies * Colonial history of the United States
United States
* Colonial South and the Chesapeake * Credit in the Thirteen Colonies * Cuisine of the Thirteen Colonies * History of the United States
United States


* ^ A B U.S. Bureau of the Census, A century of population growth from the first census of the United States
United States
to the twelfth, 1790–1900 (1909) p. 9. * ^ Richard Middleton and Anne Lombard, Colonial America: A History to 1763 (4th ed. 2011), * ^ The number 13 is mentioned as early as 1720 by Abel Boyer , The Political State of Great Britain vol. 19, p. 376: "so in this Country we have Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
at least severally govern'd by their repective Commanders in Chief, according to their peculiar Laws and Constitutions." This includes Carolina as a single colony, and does not include Georgia, but instead counts Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
and Newfoundland as British colonies. Early use of the term "thirteen colonies" in this context date to the American Revolution, for example John Roebuck , An Enquiry, Whether the Guilt of the Present Civil War in America, Ought to be Imputed to Great Britain Or America, p. 21: "though the colonies be thus absolutely subject to the parliament of England, the individuals of which the colony consist, may enjoy security, and freedom; there is not a single inhabitant, of the thirteen colonies, now in arms, but who may be conscious of the truth of this assertion". The critical review, or annals of literature vol. 48 (1779), p. 136: "during the last war, no part of his majesty's dominions contained a greater proportion of faithful subjects than the Thirteen Colonies. This being the case he asks, how can it happen, that a people so lately loyal, should so suddenly become universally disloyal, and firmly attached to republican government". * ^ The present state of Vermont
was disputed between the colonies of New York and New Hampshire. From 1777 to 1791, it existed as the de facto independent Vermont
Republic . * ^ A B Alan Taylor, American Colonies,, 2001. * ^ Ronald L. Heinemann, Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia, 1607–2007, 2008. * ^ Sparks, Jared (1846). The Library of American Biography: George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. pp. 16–. * ^ Robert M. Weir, Colonial South Carolina: A History (1983). * ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War Paperback (2007). * ^ Francis J. Bremer, The Puritan Experiment: New England
New England
Society from Bradford to Edwards (1995). * ^ Benjamin Woods Labaree, Colonial Massachusetts: a history (1979) * ^ Michael G. Kammen, Colonial New York: A History (1974). * ^ John E. Pomfret, Colonial New Jersey: A History (1973). * ^ Joseph E. Illick, Colonial Pennsylvania: a history (1976). * ^ Russell F. Weigley, ed., Philadelphia: a 300 year history (1982). excerpt * ^ Colonial charters, grants and related documents * ^ A B C Fred Anderson, The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
(2006) * ^ Colin G. Calloway, The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America
North America
(2006), pp 92–98 * ^ W. J. Rorabaugh, Donald T. Critchlow, Paula C. Baker (2004). "America\'s promise: a concise history of the United States". Rowman Melbourne: Macmillan, 1966), 31, http://www.questia.com/read/89805613. * ^ Donald William Meinig. The Shaping of America: Atlantic America, 1492–1800 (1986), p. 315; Greene and Pole, eds. '"A Companion to the American Revolution
American Revolution
(2004), ch. 63 * ^ T.H. Breen, American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People (2010) pp 81–82 * ^ Robert Middlekauff , The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 (Oxford History of the United States) (2007) * ^ Note: the population figures are estimates by historians; they do not include the Indian tribes outside the jurisdiction of the colonies. They do include Indians living under colonial control, as well as slaves and indentured servants. U.S. Bureau of the Census, A century of population growth from the first census of the United States to the twelfth, 1790–1900 (1909) p. 9 * ^ Edwin J. Perkins (1988). The Economy of Colonial America. Columbia UP. p. 7. * ^ Smith, Daniel Scott (1972). "The Demographic History of Colonial New England". The Journal of Economic History. 32 (1): 165–83. JSTOR
2117183 . PMID 11632252 . doi :10.1017/S0022050700075458 . * ^ Betty Wood, Slavery in Colonial America, 1619–1776 (2013) excerpt and text search * ^ Paul Finkelman (2006). Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895. Oxford UP. pp. 2:156. * ^ Source: Miller and Smith, eds. Dictionary of American Slavery (1988) p . 678 * ^ Patricia U. Bonomi, Under the cope of heaven: Religion, society, and politics in Colonial America (2003). * ^ Wayne J. Urban and Jennings L. Wagoner Jr., American Education: A History (5th ed. 2013) pp 11-54. * ^ John Andrew Doyle, English Colonies in America: Volume IV The Middle Colonies (1907) online * ^ Louise Phelps Kellogg, The American colonial charter (1904) online * ^ Max Savelle, "The Imperial School of American Colonial Historians". Indiana Magazine of History (1949): 123-134 in JSTOR
also online * ^ A B Robert J. Dinkin, Voting in Provincial America: A Study of Elections in the Thirteen Colonies, 1689–1776 (1977) * ^ Thomas Cooper and David James McCord, eds. The Statutes at Large of South Carolina: Acts, 1685–1716 (1837) p 688 * ^ Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote (2000) pp 5–8 * ^ Daniel Vickers, A Companion to Colonial America (2006) p. 300 * ^ Greene and Pole, eds. (2004), p. 665 * ^ Max Savelle, Seeds of Liberty: The Genesis of the American Mind (2005) pp. 204–211 * ^ George Otto Trevelyan, The American revolution: Volume 1 (1899) p. 128 online * ^ William R. Nester, The Great Frontier War: Britain, France, and the Imperial Struggle for North America, 1607–1755 (Praeger, 2000) p, 54. * ^ Stephens, Unreasonable Searches and Seizures (2006) p. 306 * ^ Jack P. Greene and J. R. Pole, eds. '"A Companion to the American Revolution
American Revolution
(2004) ch. 63 * ^ Lawrence Gipson, The British Empire Before the American Revolution (15 volumes, 1936–1970), highly detailed discussion of every British colony in the New World
New World
in the 1750s and 1760s * ^ Lawrence Gipson, The British Empire Before the American Revolution (15 volumes, 1936–1970) * ^ Meinig pp. 313–14; Greene and Pole (2004) ch. 61 * ^ Meinig pp 314–15; Greene and Pole (2004) ch 61 * ^ Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (2000) ch 6 * ^ Meinig pp 315–16; Greene and Pole (2004) ch 63 * ^ Meinig p 316 * ^ P. J. Marshall, ed. The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century (2001) * ^ Robert L. Middlekauff, "The American Continental Colonies in the Empire", in Robin Winks, ed., The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources (1966) pp 23-45. * ^ William G. Shade, "Lawrence Henry Gipson's Empire: The Critics". Pennsylvania
History (1969): 49-69 online. * ^ Brendan Simms, Three victories and a defeat: the rise and fall of the first British Empire 2008 * ^ Ashley Jackson (2013). The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP. p. 72. * ^ Ian Tyrrell, "Making Nations/Making States: American Historians in the Context of Empire", Journal of American History, (1999) 86#3 pp:. 1015-1044 in JSTOR * ^ Winks, Historiography 5:95 * ^ Francis D. Cogliano, "Revisiting the American Revolution", History Compass (2010) 8#8 pp 951-963. * ^ Eliga H. Gould, Peter S. Onuf, eds. Empire and Nation: The American Revolution
American Revolution
in the Atlantic World (2005) * ^ David Kennedy; Lizabeth Cohen (2015). American Pageant. Cengage Learning. p. 156. * ^ Ellen Holmes Pearson. "Revising Custom, Embracing Choice: Early American Legal Scholars and the Republicanization of the Common Law", in Gould and Onuf, eds. Empire and Nation: The American Revolution
American Revolution
in the Atlantic World (2005) pp 93-113 * ^ Anton-Hermann Chroust , Rise of the Legal Profession in America (1965) vol 2.


* Adams, James Truslow (1922). The Founding of New England. Atlantic Monthly Press; full text online. * Adams, James Truslow. Revolutionary New England, 1691–1776 (1923) * Andrews, Charles M. The Colonial Period of American History (4 vol. 1934–38), the standard political overview to 1700 * Carr, J. Revell (2008). Seeds of Discontent: The Deep Roots of the American Revolution, 1650-1750. Walker Books. * Chitwood, Oliver. A history of colonial America (1961), older textbook * Cooke, Jacob Ernest et al., ed. Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies. (3 vol. 1993); 2397 pp.; comprehensive coverage; compares British, French, Spanish & Dutch colonies * Elliott, John (2006). Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830. Yale University Press. * Foster, Stephen, ed. British North America
North America
in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2014) DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206124.001.0001 online * Gipson, Lawrence. The British Empire Before the American Revolution (15 volumes, 1936–1970), Pulitzer Prize; highly detailed discussion of every British colony in the New World * Greene, Evarts Boutelle et al., American Population before the Federal Census of 1790, 1993, ISBN 0-8063-1377-3 * Greene, Evarts Boutell (1905). Provincial America, 1690–1740. Harper full text online. * Hawke, David F.; The Colonial Experience; 1966, ISBN 0-02-351830-8 . older textbook * Hawke, David F. Everyday Life in Early America (1989) excerpt and text search * Middlekauf, Robert (2005). The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution, 1763-1789. Oxford University Press. * Middleton, Richard, and Anne Lombard. Colonial America: A History to 1763 (4th ed. 2011), the newest textbook excerpt and text search * Richter, Daniel (2011). Before the Revolution : America's ancient pasts. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press. * Taylor, Alan. American colonies (2002), 526 pages; recent survey by leading scholar * Taylor, Alan. American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (2016) recent survey by leading scholar * Vickers, Daniel, ed. A Companion to Colonial America. (Blackwell, 2003) 576 pp.; topical essays by experts excerpt


* Andrews, Charles M.Colonial Self-Government, 1652–1689 (1904) full text online * Dinkin, Robert J. Voting in Provincial America: A Study of Elections in the Thirteen Colonies, 1689–1776 (1977) * Miller, John C. Origins of the American Revolution
American Revolution
(1943) * Osgood, Herbert L. The American colonies in the seventeenth century, (3 vol 1904-07)' vol. 1 online; vol 2 online; vol 3 online * Osgood, Herbert L. The American colonies in the eighteenth century (4 vols, 1924–25)


* Kavenagh, W. Keith, ed. Foundations of Colonial America: a Documentary History (6 vol. 1974) * Sarson, Steven, and Jack P. Greene, eds. The American Colonies and the British Empire, 1607–1783 (8 vol, 2010); primary sources


* 840+ volumes of colonial records; useful for advanced scholarship


* Media related to Thirteen Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
at Wikimedia Commons

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