The Thirteen Colonies

With the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the thirteen colonies became the first 13 states of the Unites State of America.

The thirteen colonies refer to a group of British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. The colonies were located on the east coast. The thirteen colonies became the first states of the present-day United States of America. The colonies had similar legal, constitutional, and political systems. The colonies were part of British colonies in North America and the Caribbean. Great Britain enforced mercantilism in all its colonies; all the colonies were administered in a way that the economic benefits would be to the mother country rather than the colony. In the early 18th century the colonies began resisting the demands from London and sought self-governance. They formed an alliance and cultivated a shared identity different from the British. Armed conflict ensued between the colonies and Kingdom of Britain after the negotiation talks failed to stop the quest for independence. On July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was ratified by the colonies at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. The colonies declared independence, and on April 30, 1789, George Washington was declared the first president. The following are the thirteen colonies:

12. Province of New Hampshire

The province of New Hampshire occupied the land between Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers in the eastern parts North America. The colony was named after the county of Hampshire in England. The British first set foot in the colony in the 1620s. New Hampshire’s first president was John Cutt. The province’s economy relied on fishing and timber. Timber trading was a lucrative industry and led to recurrent conflict between the colony and the Kingdom of Great Britain which sought to transport the best trees back to the Kingdom. The colony adopted the declaration of independence on July 4, 1776, alongside 12 other colonies and became the present-day State of New Hampshire.

11. Province of Massachusetts Bay

The province of Massachusetts Bay was first settled by the British in the 1620s and became a crown colony. In 1691 the colony was charted by William III and Mary II. The colony was named after the Massachusetts Indians; an Algonquian tribe that inhabited the land. The British faced constant revolution from the Abenaki Indians who felt the Europeans were encroaching on their land. Between 1760 and 1770 the colony was frustrated with London’s policies. The local leaders disliked the governors sent to implement the policies and launched frequent rebellions. On May 1, 1776, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress passed a resolution to declare independence and on July 4, 1776, the colony adopted the United States Declaration of Independence and became the State of Massachusetts.

10. Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was a colony of the Kingdom of England between 1936 and 1707 before it became a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was initially settled by the Narragansett Indians. The first Europeans arrived in the colony in the early 1620s. In 1636 theologian Roger William was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He settled in in the area with his followers and called it the Providence Plantation. A year later several dissenters from Massachusetts acquired an island from the Indians and called in Rhode Island. The two settlement became a sanctuary for persecuted Christians, and on July 4, 1776, they adopted the United States Declaration of Independence. Today the land is popularly known as the State of Rhode Island.

9. Connecticut Colony

In 1636 the then governor of Massachusetts Bay John Haynes led a group of about 100 people to modern-day Hartford. Alongside popular puritan minister Thomas Hooker they founded the Connecticut colony. They fought the Dutch for the control of the land before engaging in a bloody war with the Pequot Indians in what came to be referred to as the Pequot War. The colony is revered for its role in seeking self-governance by undermining the Dominion of New England. It ratified the Declaration of Independence of Independence alongside twelve other colonies and is modern day State of Connecticut.

8. Province of New York

The Province of New York was a British colony from 1664-1776. James, the Duke of York, acquired the colony from the Dutch during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. It was considered part of the middle colonies and ruled directly from England. The colony of New York was among the largest colonies; it included the present-day states of New York, Vermont, Delaware, and Vermont, and parts of Maine, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. On May 22, 1775, the New York Provincial Congress declared the colony the "State of New York" before ratifying the Declaration of Independence a year later.

7. Province of New Jersey

The province of New Jersey was part of the province of New York. James, the Duke of York, awarded part of his colony between the rivers Hudson and Delaware to Sir George Carteret to settle a debt he owed him. Sir George named his new colony the Island of Jersey. He sold part of the colony to Lord Berkeley of Stratton. The two Lords attracted other settlers into their land by granting freedom of religion. Over time the colonies of New York and New Jersey engaged in boundary related conflicts as the governor of New York sought to overthrow the governor of New Jersey. The conflict was later settled, and both colonies ratified the Declaration of Independence.

6. Province of Pennsylvania

The province of Pennsylvania was founded on March 4, 1681, by William Penn. The name “Pennsylvania” was reached by combining the last name of the founder “Penn” and “Sylvania,” the Latin word for woodland. It was one of the two restoration colonies alongside the Province of Carolina. Penn was appointed the first Governor of the colony. The state’s capital Philadelphia remains in the history books as the place where the Declaration of Independence was agreed upon by the thirteen colonies.

5. Delware Colony

The Delaware colony was considered among the middle colonies. It occupied the land west of the Delaware River Bay. Before the Europeans set foot on the area, it was occupied by the Assateague and Lenape tribes. The English settled on the land Europeans in 1664 after displacing the Swedes and the Dutch who had occupied it. William Penn had acquired land from the Duke of York which included the Province of Pennsylvania. Between 1682 and 1701 Delaware was governed as part of Pennsylvania. The lower counties of Pennsylvania were granted independence but retained ties. In 1776 Delaware severed ties with both Pennsylvania and Great Britain.

4. Province of Maryland

The province of Maryland was established as a proprietary colony by Lord Baltimore. He sought to establish a haven for Catholics at a time when Europe was experiencing a war on religion. In 1689 John Coode led a revolt to oust Lord Baltimore from power and only restored back to the family in 1715. The province of Maryland developed along similar lines to the Province of Virginia. The economy centered on the cultivation of large plantations of tobacco for the European market. The colony actively participated in the American Revolution and ratified the Declaration of Independence, bringing to an end the of British rule.

3. Colony and Dominion of Virginia

The colony of Virginia was the first permanent English colony in North America. The colony was settled after previous attempts to settle in Newfoundland and Roanoke Island in the late 16th century failed. The Virginia Company established the first settlements in the colony in Jamestown on the banks of the James River. In 1624 the colony was made a crown colony and nicknamed the “Old Dominion" due to its loyalty to the English monarchy during the English Civil War of the 1640s and 50s. After the Declaration of Independence, the State of Virginia was subdivided and gave rise to the current states of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, and Ohio.

2. Province of Carolina

The province of Carolina was founded in modern day North Carolina. The colony expanded south and included modern-day states of Alabama, Mississippi Georgia, North and South Carolina, and parts of Louisiana and Florida. The colony experienced several dissents concerning governance and had to be divided into two halves. In 1712 the colony was divided into Albemarle and Clarendon provinces, the two colonies would later be renamed the States of North Carolina and South Carolina respectively.

1. Province of Georgia

The Province of Georgia was a southern colony and the last of the thirteen colonies to be established. On April 21st, 1732 General James Oglethorpe received the colony's corporate charter from George II for whom the colony was named after. Oglethorpe sought to establish a haven for those imprisoned for debt; he imposed strict laws on his territory including placing bans on alcohols. He envisioned a colony free of slavery and forced labor. The province of Georgia would also act a buffer state that would defend the southern colonies from the more aggressive Spanish Florida. After ratifying the Declaration of Independence the colony became the modern-day State of Georgia.


More in World Facts