The Thirteen Colonies – Concept, history, process of independence

We explain what the Thirteen British Colonies were and how they arose. Also, causes and consequences of American independence.

thirteen colonies united states history flag
The first US flag had thirteen stars for the colonies that gave rise to it.

What were the Thirteen British Colonies?

The British Thirteen Colonies (also known as the Thirteen Colonies) They were the set of British colonies on the east coast of present-day US territory, founded between the seventeenth and seventeenth centuries. His proclamation of independence in 1776 gave birth to the United States of America.

These colonies were once part of the British territories in America. They were English-speaking agricultural enclaves, Protestant religion and laws very similar to each other. They were linked with the European metropolis through a mercantilist system, in which the central government rigorously administered the goods of the colonies for the benefit of the population residing in Europe.

Nevertheless, from 1750 the different colonies began to interrelate and collaborate with each other, eventually being able to do without Great Britain. Thus the way was paved for the American Revolution and independence.

In addition to the Thirteen Colonies, Britain had a dozen more controlled territories in the so-called New World: the British West Indies, Newfoundland, the province of Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Bermuda, and eastern and western Florida. .

What were the Thirteen Colonies?

These thirteen colonies were

  • Massachusetts (founded 1620)
  • New Hampshire (founded 1623)
  • Rhode Island (founded 1636)
  • Connecticut (founded 1636)
  • New York (founded 1664)
  • Pennsylvania (founded 1681)
  • New Jersey (founded 1664)
  • Delaware (founded 1638)
  • Maryland (founded 1632)
  • Virginia (founded 1607)
  • North Carolina (founded 1653)
  • South Carolina (founded 1670)
  • Georgia (founded in 1732)

How did the Thirteen Colonies arise?

thirteen colonies united states history jamestown virginia
Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the first British settlement.

The first permanent British settlement on American soil was Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, long before Virginia became a Royal Colony in 1624. Before the latter occurred, settlements of Puritan settlers founded Plymouth in 1620 and New Hampshire in 1623.

The population of these early colonies was diverse, made up of settlers and farmers of various British and European nationalities: Scots, Irish, Germans, Flemings, and French Huguenots.

In many cases they were religious persecuted people who saw in the New World the chance to start from scratch in a territory far from the power of the church and the crown. Also, in the vicinity of these colonies the Swedish crown founded its own settlements in the seventeenth century, which were later conquered by the English and assimilated into the Thirteen colonies.

By 1770 many of these colonies were already urban centers with newspapers, shops, businesses and artisans, in constant expansion, the result of European migration and generations born on American soil. The latter had never had a feudal aristocracy like the European one, since the land was abundant and any free man was welcome to cultivate it.

Background to US independence

Due to their low profitability and productivity (compared to the British colonies in the Caribbean), the British government found it practical to grant the Thirteen Colonies some autonomy, so that they could manage their resources more efficiently.

They could have their own local government system, in which there were even cases of voting, although the majority of the colonial governors always came from the appointment of the crown.

Secondly, the laws passed by the British Parliament in Europe were valid and in force in the American territories, although the colonies had neither voice nor participation whatsoever in those decisions. This system, based on the dynamics of mercantilism, caused not a few annoyances among the American colonists.

Causes of US independence

thirteen colonies united states history declaration of independence
Thanks to the collaboration between the colonies, in 1776 Independence was declared.

The causes of the War of Independence that began in 1775 (with the Declaration of Independence in 1776) can be summarized as:

  • Absence of colonial representation in British government decision-making, especially after the end of the war against the French in 1763, in which many American militiamen excelled.
  • Laws and restrictions imposed by the British crown on its colonial territories, which were detrimental to local economies and favored the metropolis.
  • Contact and collaboration between the Thirteen Colonies that began to occur in 1750, which allowed them to develop a common identity and dispense with Europe.
  • Emancipatory and libertarian ideas that the French Enlightenment had become fashionable at the time.
  • The outbreak of popular protests throughout the Thirteen colonies and the brutal response of the British Crown that fueled tensions until an armed conflict erupted.

Consequences of US independence

The consequences of the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, similarly, can be summarized as:

  • The explosion of a armed conflict between Great Britain and its American colonies, ending in 1789.
  • The creation of a new nation americana: the United States of America, after the end of the war.
  • The implantation in the young nation of new enlightened and republican ideals, in social and political matters, allowing the federation and the drafting of the first constitution (1787) and the “Charter of rights” (1789).
  • There was a society that mythologized its pilgrim origins and established equal birth rights, although he did not abolish slavery until many years later.
  • The settlement and territorial expansion from the United States throughout North America.
  • The opposing political tendencies that, almost a hundred years later, gave rise to the sides faced in the Civil War (1861-1865).