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The Thirteen Colonies were part of what became known as British America, a name that was used by Great Britainmarker until the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the original thirteen United States of Americamarker in 1783. These British colonies in North America rebelled against British rule in 1775, in what is called the American Revolution in the United States and the American War of Independence in other countries. A provisional government was formed which proclaimed their independence, which is now celebrated as having occurred on July 4, 1776, and subsequently became the original thirteen United States of America. The colonies were founded between 1607 (Virginia), and 1733 (Georgia), although Great Britainmarker held several other colonies in North America and the West Indiesmarker that did not join the rebellion in 1775.

The Thirteen Colonies gave rise to eighteen present-day states: the original thirteen states (in chronological order of their ratification of the United States Constitution: Delawaremarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, New Jerseymarker, Georgiamarker, Connecticutmarker, Massachusettsmarker, Marylandmarker, South Carolinamarker, New Hampshiremarker, Virginiamarker, New Yorkmarker, North Carolinamarker, Rhode Islandmarker), Vermontmarker (which had been disputed between New Hampshiremarker and New Yorkmarker and which was an independent republic from 1777 to 1791), Kentuckymarker (formerly part of Virginiamarker until 1792), Tennesseemarker (formerly part of North Carolina until 1796), Mainemarker (formerly part of Massachusettsmarker until 1820), and West Virginiamarker (also formerly part of Virginiamarker until 1863).

Much of the additional North American territory outside the Thirteen Colonies was gained by Britain during the Seven Years War. However the Proclamation Line of 1763 barred American settlement.

The colonies

North American colonies 1763-76

Contemporaneous documents usually list the thirteen revolutionary colonies of British North America in geographical order, from the north to the south.
New England Colonies

Middle Colonies

Southern Colonies
(depending on the subject under discussion, Virginia and Maryland may be grouped as the Chesapeake Colonies)

Other divisions prior to 1730

Dominion of New England
Created in 1685 by a decree from King James II that consolidated Mainemarker, New Hampshiremarker, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, Rhode Islandmarker, Connecticutmarker, Province of New York, East Jersey, and West Jersey into a single larger colony. The experiment was discontinued with the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89, and the nine former colonies re-established their separate identities in 1689.
Province of Maine
Settled in 1622 (An earlier attempt to settle the Popham Colonymarker on Sagadahoc Island, Maine in 1607 was abandoned after only one year). Massachusetts Bay colony encroached into Maine during the English Civil War, but, with the Restoration, autonomy was returned to Maine in 1664. Maine was officially merged into Massachusetts Bay Colony with the issuance of the Massachusetts Bay charter of 1691.
Plymouth Colony
Settled in 1620 by the Pilgrims. Plymouth was absorbed by Massachusetts Bay Colony with the issuance of the Massachusetts Bay charter of 1691.
Saybrook Colony
Founded in 1635 and merged with Connecticut Colony in 1644.
New Haven
Settled in late 1637. New Haven was absorbed by Connecticut Colony with the issuance of the Connecticut Charter in 1662, partly as royal punishment by King Charles II for harboring the regicide judges who sentenced King Charles I to death.
East and West Jersey
New Jersey was divided into two separate colonies in 1674. The Jerseys were reunited in 1702.
Province of Carolina
Founded in 1663. Carolina colony was divided into two colonies, North Carolina and South Carolina in 1712. Both colonies became royal colonies in 1729.


(Note: the population figures do not account for the native tribes who originally resided there.)

Year Population
1625 1,980
1641 50,000
1688 200,000
1702 270,000
1715 434,600
1749 1,046,000
1754 1,485,634
1765 2,240,000
1775 2,418,000
At the time of the Revolutionary War, approximately 85 percent of the white population was of English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish descent. Persons of German origin represented 8.8 percent of the white population, and those of Dutch origin represented 3.5 percent of the colonists. The colonies/states continued to grow at a rapid rate throughout the eight years of war until 1783.

See also


  1. 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.
  2. Greene


  • Cooke, Jacob Ernest et al., ed. Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies. Scribner's, 1993. 3 vol; 2397 pp.
  • 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 0806313773
  • Greene, Evarts Boutelle. Provincial America, 1690-1740. 1905. online
  • Osgood, Herbert L. The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century. 4 vol Columbia University Press, 1904-07. online
  • Vickers, Daniel, ed. A Companion to Colonial America. Blackwell, 2003. 576 pp.

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