13 Colonies Map

The 13 colonies that were established on the East Coast in the 1600s and 1700s weren't the initial settlements in America, but they stand out because the settlers there decided to resist British control. This led them to create their own system of government, which eventually became the foundation of the United States.

13 Colonies Map

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About 13 Colonies Map

Explore the thirteen colonies map or 13 original colonies map showing all 13 american colonies with names that were established in North America by the British around the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Thirteen Colonies

The Thirteen Colonies were a collection of British territories on North America's Atlantic coast during the 1600s and 1700s. Due to complaints against British authority, by 1774, the colonies started to unite and by 1775, were driving out British officials. Meeting in Philadelphia at the Second Continental Congress, they chose George Washington to lead the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. In 1776, they declared their independence by adopting the Declaration of Independence, naming themselves the United States of America. With assistance from France, they defeated the British forces, securing their independence with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

The colonies were divided into three regions: New England (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut), Middle (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware), and Southern (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia). These were all part of a larger British America, which included other areas in The Floridas, the Caribbean, and what is now Canada.

Despite sharing similar systems of government and being predominantly English-speaking Protestants, each colony had its unique reasons for establishment. Virginia, the first colony, was founded in Jamestown in 1607. New England, Maryland, and Pennsylvania were largely founded on religious motivations, while others focused on trade and economic growth. The Middle Colonies were initially part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland.

From 1625 to 1775, the population grew from 2,000 to 2.4 million, affecting Native American lands. This period saw a reliance on a system of slavery across all colonies. Britain's mercantilist policies sought to control colonial trade for its benefit.

Despite enjoying a significant degree of autonomy and holding local elections, the colonies resisted Britain's increasing control attempts. The French and Indian War (1754–1763) escalated tensions, leading to closer collaboration among the colonies. They shared their grievances and demands for rights through colonial newspapers, emphasizing "no taxation without representation."

This dissatisfaction with British tax and governance policies sparked the American Revolution. The colonies formed the Continental Congress, raised an army, and, with help mainly from France but also the Dutch Republic and Spain, fought the British until achieving independence in 1783.

British Colonies

In 1606, King James I of England gave permissions to the Plymouth Company and the London Company to set up lasting communities in America. The London Company went on to create the Virginia Colony in 1607, marking the first English settlement to take root in North America. The Plymouth Company tried to establish a settlement at the Popham Colony on the Kennebec River, but it didn't last long. The Plymouth Council for New England initiated several attempts at colonization, with the Plymouth Colony in 1620 being a notable success. This colony was founded by English Puritans who sought religious freedom, and are known today as the Pilgrims. Around the same time, the Dutch, Swedish, and French also set up their own colonies in America, which eventually fell under English control. The collection of the Thirteen Colonies was completed with Georgia's founding in 1732, although the term "Thirteen Colonies" only came into common use during the American Revolution.

In London, from 1660 onwards, the colonies were managed by a government department called the Southern Department, alongside a committee of the Privy Council known as the Board of Trade and Plantations. In 1768, a dedicated department for American affairs was established, but it was dissolved in 1782, with the Home Office taking over its responsibilities.

New England Colonies

  1. The Province of Massachusetts Bay was officially designated as a royal colony in 1691. It included:
    • The Popham Colony, started in 1607 but left deserted by 1608.
    • Plymouth Colony, formed in 1620, which joined the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.
    • The Province of Maine, granted a patent in 1622 by the Council for New England and again by Charles I in 1639, was incorporated into the Massachusetts Bay Colony by 1658.
    • The Massachusetts Bay Colony itself, established in 1628, merged with Plymouth Colony in 1691.

  2. The Province of New Hampshire, set up in 1629, became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1641 before being officially recognized as a royal colony in 1679.

  3. The Connecticut Colony, created in 1636 and granted royal colony status in 1662, included:
    • The Saybrook Colony, started in 1635 and combined with the Connecticut Colony in 1644.
    • New Haven Colony, formed in 1638 and merged with Connecticut Colony in 1664.

  4. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, given royal colony status in 1663, was founded through the union of:
    • Providence Plantations, established by Roger Williams in 1636.
    • Portsmouth, set up in 1638 by John Clarke, William Coddington, and others.
    • Newport, created in 1639 after settlers split from Portsmouth.
    • Warwick, started in 1642 by Samuel Gorton.
    • These four communities unified under a single royal colony in 1663.

    The colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven came together to form the New England Confederation in 1643. Later, all the New England colonies were part of the Dominion of New England from 1686 to 1689.

    Middle Colonies

  5. Delaware Colony, known before 1776 as the Lower Counties on Delaware, was founded in 1664 as a colony owned by a private proprietor.

  6. The Province of New York started as a privately owned colony in 1664, became a royal colony in 1686, and was part of the Dominion of New England from 1686 to 1689.

  7. The Province of New Jersey began as a privately owned colony in 1664 and was designated a royal colony in 1702. It included:
    • East Jersey, created in 1674, joined with West Jersey to become the unified Province of New Jersey again in 1702. It was also part of the Dominion of New England.
    • West Jersey, also established in 1674, combined with East Jersey to reunify as the Province of New Jersey in 1702 and was included in the Dominion of New England.

  8. The Province of Pennsylvania was established in 1681 as a colony owned by a private proprietor.

  9. Southern Colonies

  10. The Colony of Virginia was first set up in 1607 as a colony owned by a private individual and became a royal colony in 1624.
  11. The Province of Maryland was founded in 1632 as a colony under private ownership.
  12. The Province of North Carolina, originally part of a larger Carolina territory until 1712, became officially recognized as a royal colony in 1729.
  13. The Province of South Carolina, also initially part of the larger Carolina territory until 1712, was designated a royal colony in 1729.
  14. The Province of Georgia was established in 1732 as a colony owned by a private proprietor and transitioned to a royal colony in 1752.

The Province of Carolina was first given a charter in 1629, with the earliest settlements appearing after 1651. However, this charter was canceled by Charles II in 1660, and a new charter was issued in 1663, turning it into a colony owned by private individuals. In 1712, the Carolina territory was split into two parts, North and South Carolina, and by 1729, both parts were turned into royal colonies.

Before this, the Roanoke Colony was set up along the coast in 1585, attempted again in 1587, but by 1590, it was discovered to be deserted.

17th Century Colonial History of the United States

Southern Colonies

The first British settlement in America was Jamestown, founded on May 14, 1607, near Chesapeake Bay. This venture was supported and organized by the London Virginia Company, which aimed to find gold. The early years of Jamestown were marked by severe challenges, including high death rates due to disease and hunger, conflicts with local Native American tribes, and the absence of gold. However, the colony managed to prosper by focusing on tobacco as its main product for trade.

In 1632, King Charles I issued a charter for the creation of the Province of Maryland to Cecil Calvert, the 2nd Baron Baltimore. Calvert's father, a notable Catholic figure, had promoted the idea of Catholic settlers moving to the English colonies. The charter itself did not specify any religious requirements.

The Province of Carolina represented the second English attempt to establish a settlement south of Virginia, after the unsuccessful Roanoke venture. Funded by a group of English Lords Proprietors who received a Royal Charter for the Carolinas in 1663, they hoped to replicate Jamestown's success. However, Carolina wasn't settled until 1670, and initial efforts to attract settlers were unsuccessful due to lack of interest. Eventually, the Lords Proprietors pooled their resources for a new settlement mission led by Sir John Colleton. This group chose Charleston, initially named Charles Town in honor of King Charles II, for its fertile land and strategic defensive position.

Middle Colonies

Starting in 1609, Dutch traders set up fur trading outposts along the Hudson, Delaware, and Connecticut Rivers to safeguard their stake in the fur trade. The Dutch West India Company went on to establish permanent communities along the Hudson River, forming the Dutch colony of New Netherland.

In 1626, Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Lenape Indians, founding New Amsterdam. Despite the low number of Dutch settlers, New Netherland became a key player in the fur trade. It was also a hub for trading with the English colonies, allowing European markets access to products from New England and Virginia via Dutch ships. The Dutch took part in the early slave trade, bringing enslaved Africans to North America, with many more sent to Barbados and Brazil. Although New Netherland became commercially viable, it struggled to attract settlers compared to English colonies. Those who did settle were often English, German, Walloon, or Sephardic.

Sweden entered the colonial scene in 1638 by establishing New Sweden in the Delaware Valley, led by ex-members of the Dutch West India Company, including Peter Minuit. New Sweden thrived on trade with English southern colonies and Virginia's tobacco. However, the Dutch seized New Sweden in 1655 during Sweden's involvement in the Second Northern War.

The English and Dutch clashed in a series of wars starting in the 1650s, with the English aiming to take over New Netherland. Richard Nicolls captured the lightly defended New Amsterdam in 1664, and English forces quickly took the rest of New Netherland. The 1667 Treaty of Breda, ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War, confirmed English ownership of the area. The Dutch briefly regained some territories during the Third Anglo-Dutch War but permanently ceded New Netherland to the English in the 1674 Treaty of Westminster, marking the end of Dutch colonial ambitions in America.

The British changed New Amsterdam's name to "New York City" or simply "New York." Despite the change, many Dutch people stayed, especially in rural areas from Manhattan to Albany, while New Englanders and German immigrants moved in. New York City became a diverse hub, including a significant slave population. In 1674, the areas that would become East Jersey and West Jersey were carved out of New York.

Pennsylvania was established by Quaker William Penn in 1681 as a proprietary colony. Its diverse population included Quakers in Philadelphia, Scotch-Irish in the western frontier, and German settlements in between. Philadelphia, with its strategic location, outstanding port, and population of about 30,000, became the colonies' largest city.

New England

The Pilgrims were a group of Puritan separatists who decided to leave the Church of England, which they saw as corrupt. They first moved to the Netherlands and then, in 1620, sailed to America on the Mayflower. Once they arrived, they created the Mayflower Compact, agreeing to stick together as a community, which led to the founding of Plymouth Colony. William Bradford played a key role as their leader. After its establishment, more people from England joined them.

In 1629, another group of Puritans arrived and set up the Massachusetts Bay Colony with 400 people. They aimed to start a new church in America that reflected their own religious beliefs. By 1640, 20,000 people had made the journey, and despite many dying shortly after arrival, the survivors enjoyed a good climate and plenty of food. Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies were the starting points for other Puritan settlements in New England, such as the New Haven, Saybrook, and Connecticut colonies. By the end of the 17th century, New Haven and Saybrook had joined Connecticut.

Roger Williams, a Puritan advocating for religious freedom and separation of church and state, founded Providence Plantations in 1636 on land given by the Narragansett leader Canonicus. After being expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony due to his beliefs, Williams established a community based on democratic principles and religious freedom.

Anne Hutchinson and others, following Williams’ example, set up a settlement on Rhode Island, now known as Aquidneck, in 1637. Samuel Gorton founded another settlement nearby, initially named Shawomet. When Massachusetts Bay tried to take over, Gorton secured a charter from the King with the help of Robert Rich, the 2nd Earl of Warwick, and renamed the settlement Warwick. In 1663, Roger Williams got a Royal Charter that united all four settlements into the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Further north, settlers mixed with those seeking profit, creating more religiously diverse communities in New Hampshire and Maine. Massachusetts eventually took over these smaller settlements but New Hampshire received its own charter in 1679, while Maine became its own state in 1820.

In 1685, King James II tried to strengthen control over New England by forming the Dominion of New England and placing it under Governor Edmund Andros. This included New York and the Jerseys by 1688. However, after the Glorious Revolution ousted King James II in 1689, Andros was overthrown, the dominion dissolved, and the original colonies were restored. This event was a turning point in the long-standing conflict between the Puritans of Massachusetts and the English government over who should govern the colony.

18th Century

In 1702, East and West Jersey were merged to create the Province of New Jersey.

The Carolina colony was divided into northern and southern areas that operated separately until 1691 when Philip Ludwell became the governor of the whole province. This unified governance lasted until 1708, during which time the terms North Carolina and South Carolina started to be used as the two areas developed distinct identities. The people of Charles Town eventually removed their governor and set up their own government, leading to the formation of separate governments for North Carolina and South Carolina. By 1729, the king officially ended Carolina's original charter, turning both areas into crown colonies.

In the 1730s, James Oglethorpe suggested colonizing the area south of the Carolinas with England's "worthy poor" to alleviate debtors' prisons' overcrowding. Oglethorpe and fellow philanthropists received a royal charter for Georgia on June 9, 1732, aiming to create a utopian society that prohibited slavery and only allowed select settlers. However, by 1750, Georgia had few inhabitants. The original owners surrendered their charter in 1752, and Georgia then became a crown colony.

The population of the Thirteen Colonies saw significant growth in the 18th century. Historian Alan Taylor notes that by 1750, there were 1.5 million people, making up four-fifths of British North America's population. Most colonists were farmers, though cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Boston began to thrive, each reaching populations over 16,000 by 1760, which was modest compared to European cities. By 1770, the economic output from these colonies constituted forty percent of the British Empire's GDP.

Towards the late 18th century, settlers moved further inland, away from the Atlantic coast. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Connecticut, and Maryland all claimed parts of the Ohio River valley, leading to competition for land purchases from Native American tribes in line with British policies that land claims should be based on fair transactions. Virginia, in particular, pursued westward expansion aggressively, with many of its leading families investing in the Ohio Company to encourage settling the Ohio Country.

Immigration and Global Trade

The British American colonies became an essential part of Britain's global trade, with exports to Britain from America increasing threefold from 1700 to 1754. Although trade with non-British European countries was limited, the colonies found lucrative trading opportunities within the British Empire, especially with Caribbean territories. They exchanged goods like food, lumber, tobacco, and more for items such as Asian tea, Caribbean coffee, and sugar. Native Americans living inland provided the Atlantic markets with beaver fur and deer skins. Benefiting from abundant natural resources, America developed a strong shipbuilding industry and participated actively in transatlantic trade.

As Europe's economic conditions improved and religious tolerance grew, attracting labor to the colonies became more challenging. Consequently, many colonies, especially in the southern regions, increasingly depended on enslaved Africans. The enslaved population in America surged from 1680 to 1750 due to both forced arrivals and natural increase among the enslaved community. In the South, slaves were the backbone of large-scale plantations, whereas in the North, they worked in various roles. There were attempts at slave rebellions, like the Stono Rebellion and the New York Conspiracy of 1741, but these were quickly quelled.

Post-1700, a smaller percentage of people from England moved to America, but the colonies remained attractive to immigrants from other parts of Europe, making the Middle Colonies the most ethnically diverse. Significant numbers of Irish settlers, including Catholics and "New Light" Ulster Presbyterians, as well as Protestant Germans, particularly targeted Pennsylvania for settlement. The 1740s saw the colonies experience the First Great Awakening, a period of religious revival.

Indian and French War

In 1738, a conflict ignited by a Welsh sailor named Robert Jenkins led to the War of Jenkins' Ear between Britain and Spain. Many North Americans joined Admiral Edward Vernon's attack on Cartagena de Indias, a key Spanish city in South America. This conflict eventually became part of a larger war, the War of the Austrian Succession, which the colonists referred to as King George's War. In 1745, British and colonial troops captured Louisbourg, but the 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the war and controversially, Britain traded Louisbourg back to France for territories including Madras. Following the war, both Britain and France aimed to extend their territories into the Ohio River valley.

The French and Indian War, part of the global Seven Years' War, was notable for starting in North America between Britain and France, focusing on competition for land, especially around the Great Lakes and the Ohio valley. This war marked the first major military effort devoted by Britain to North America, making the continent a central battlefield. The war heightened the American colonists' awareness of being under British rule, as British military and official presence increased.

This period fostered a sense of unity among the American colonists, bringing together men from different colonies and backgrounds. Notably, British officers, including George Washington, received valuable military training. Despite the efforts for a continent-wide military strategy, tensions grew between British military leaders and the colonists, laying early groundwork for future discord.

Benjamin Franklin's proposal at the 1754 Albany Congress for a unified colonial government for defense was rejected, showing early signs of resistance to centralized control. The 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the war, with France ceding its North American territories east of the Mississippi River to Britain, significantly altering the territorial landscape. Britain's victory removed a major external threat to the colonies, diminishing the perceived need for British military protection.

The war's end also brought about a shift in colonial-British relations. The British government's decision to use colonial troops and British tax funds for the war effort led to a post-war dispute over who had contributed more. The British argued that the colonists had paid little towards the war's costs, while the colonists felt their sacrifices, especially in human lives, had been greater. This disagreement sowed seeds of discontent, contributing to the growing divide that would eventually lead to the American Revolution.

Growing Dissent

After the French and Indian War, the British found themselves deeply in debt. To address this, British officials decided to raise taxes and tighten control over the Thirteen Colonies. They introduced several new taxes, starting with the Sugar Act in 1764, followed by the Currency Act in the same year, the Stamp Act in 1765, and the Townshend Acts in 1767. Colonial newspapers and those who worked in printing were particularly vocal against the Stamp Act, which taxed newspapers and legal papers. They played a key role in spreading opposition to these taxes and the concept of being taxed without having a say in British Parliament.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was another source of contention, as it limited colonial expansion west of the Appalachian Mountains, marking it as territory for Indigenous peoples. Despite this, some settlers ignored the proclamation and moved westward to set up homes and farms. Although the proclamation's restrictions were eventually relaxed, colonists were upset that such a decision had been made without consulting them first.

American Revolution

The British Parliament imposed duties and taxes on the colonies without going through the colonial legislatures, leading to widespread protests, especially against the Stamp Act of 1765. Americans rallied around the principle of "no taxation without representation," arguing that without representation in Parliament, it was unfair to tax them. Despite these protests, Parliament continued to assert its control by enacting new taxes.

The situation worsened with the 1773 Tea Act, which lowered taxes on tea from the East India Company to undercut other sellers. This move, intended by Prime Minister North to make colonists accept British tax policies, led to widespread boycotts. The most famous protest was the Boston Tea Party in 1773, where protestors threw large quantities of tea into Boston Harbor. The British response, the Intolerable Acts of 1774, severely limited Massachusetts' self-governance and allowed British soldiers to be quartered in American homes without consent. These acts also took away the colonies' rights to conduct trials locally for soldiers or crown officials, insisting such trials be held in England. Thomas Gage was sent as the Governor of Massachusetts and commander of British forces in North America.

By 1774, while many colonists still wished to remain under British rule, dissatisfaction was widespread. In response, colonists sent delegates to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Following the Intolerable Acts, this Congress declared that the colonies only owed allegiance to the king and would only recognize royal governors, rejecting Parliament's legislative authority over them. Although initially reluctant to confront British forces in Boston, the Congress agreed on a boycott called the Continental Association, significantly reducing British imports. This period marked the growing divide between Patriots, who opposed British control, and Loyalists, who supported it.

American Revolutionary War

In reaction, the colonies set up their own legislative bodies, called Provincial Congresses, and started boycotting British goods. By late 1774, 12 of the colonies had sent representatives to meet in Philadelphia at the First Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress saw Georgia join in as well.

Massachusetts' Governor, Thomas Gage, worried about clashes with the colonists, asked Britain for more troops. However, Britain was hesitant to cover the cost of sending a large military force to the colonies. Instead, Gage was instructed to capture weapons stored by the Patriot movement. When he sent troops to Concord, Massachusetts, to seize an arsenal, the Patriots were forewarned and stopped the British advance. The initial conflicts at Lexington and Concord in April 1775 led to the Patriots surrounding Boston.

By the spring of 1775, royal officials had been driven out, and the Continental Congress gathered delegates from all Thirteen Colonies. This Congress formed an army, appointed George Washington as its leader, made agreements, declared independence, and suggested that the colonies adopt constitutions to become states, a process outlined in the Articles of Confederation by 1777.

In May 1775, the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia started to organize an army for the Revolutionary War, created its own currency, and confirmed George Washington as the commander of the Patriot forces. These forces, initially from New England and involved in the Siege of Boston, eventually pushed British troops out of the city. This militia evolved into the Continental Army under Washington's command.

Declaration of Independence

The Second Continental Congress appointed a group known as the Committee of Five, which included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman, to create the Declaration of Independence. They decided that Jefferson would write the initial version. Jefferson worked mostly alone on this task from June 11 to June 28, 1776, in a rented house at 700 Market Street in Philadelphia, close to Independence Hall, now known as the Declaration House. Given the Congress's packed agenda, Jefferson had to write the draft quickly within those 17 days.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously agreed to and announced the Declaration as a list of complaints directed at King George III.

With substantial help from France, the American forces defeated the British in the Revolutionary War. The turning point was the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. In the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Britain formally acknowledged the United States of America as an independent nation.

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