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December 27, 2020 3 min read

The thirteen colonies were British settlements on the Atlantic coast of America from the 17th and 18th centuries. They finally lead to the creation of the United States of America and therefore are an important part of the US background.


  • The age of mercantilism in Europe emerged throughout the 16th century.  It meant that countries became more aggressive in terms of financial gains. As a result, European nations sought territorial growth and to acquire colonies away from the continent.
  • A colony is an area of a country that's controlled by another country. The 13 colonies were first in America but were controlled by Britain.  Colonies are generally settled by people from the home country.
  • To expand the British Empire against the Spanish rival, Queen Elizabeth of England established colonies in North America.
  • Every colony was set under different conditions. Many were established later escaping religious persecution in Europe. Some were looking for new opportunities and improved living standards.
13 Colonies Facts & Worksheets


  • Historians believe that the first English settlement established in North America was by Sir Walter Raleigh in Roanoke, in 1587.In addition to 91 men, 17 women, and nine kids as the first colonists, the Roanoke colony mysteriously vanished after three decades of settlement. 
  • In 1606, months after the divisions made by King James I, the London Company sent three ships equipped with 144 men to sail to Virginia.  Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant attained the Chesapeake Bay and led to the James River where they found the first settlement named Jamestown.
  • At first, the colonists fought since they focused on excavating gold and other minerals rather than feeding themselves. It was just in 1616 the colonists began to plant tobacco.
  • By 1619, the first African slaves attained the colony. Since that time, enslaved Africans became the key element in maintaining big tobacco plantations. 
  • The first thirteen colonies were classified into 3 main divisions, including New England, Middle Colonies, and Southern Colonies.
13 Colonies Facts & Worksheets
  • New England Colonies were composed of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire that was originally settled by a small group of Puritans, also known as the Pilgrims, in 1620. The colonists were aided by the natives and learned farming, hunting, and fishing. In 1664, King Charles II gave the land between New England and Virginia to his brother James, the Duke of York. The territory was then occupied by patroons or Dutch traders and landowners. Persuaded by religious tolerance and fertile land, many Quakers from around Europe migrated to the colony of Penn's Wood, afterward called Pennsylvania. 
  • Southern Colonies comprised Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.  Most of the colonies in the south were highly dependent on African slave labor as many of them were involved in the slave trade.

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  • Prior to the American Revolution, the thirteen colonies were under the principle of King George III of Britain.  Each colony had independent local authorities all under the British Parliament.  On account of the great distance separating the colonies from England, King George III confronted challenges in governing the colonists which caused discontent and later the Revolutionary War. 

  • As a consequence of the pricey French-Indian War, which lasted from 1754 to 1763, the British Parliament decided to tax the colonies in North America.  From 1764, the British government started to impose taxes under the following laws: The Sugar Act, Currency Act, Quartering Act, and the Stamp Act. 

  • Angered by the new taxes, the colonists argued that they shouldn't be levied with taxation as they do not have representations from the Parliament. 

  • From 1765, the Sons of Liberty, an anti-colonialist set was made in Boston, Massachusetts, and disperse in other parts of the thirteen colonies. 

  • After the Boston Tea Party and the issuance of the newest Intolerable Acts, the colonies became united fighting against the British authorities by providing supplies to Boston during the blockade. 

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  • As an immediate response to the Intolerable Act, the First Continental Congress was held and attended by representatives from twelve out of thirteen colonies. 

  • The Congress delivered an appeal to King George to redesign the actions but received no response.  As a result, the colonists boycotted British goods. 

  • A year after the war broke out, the Continental Congress declared its autonomy from the British authorities, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by 12 colonies, followed by the 13th (New York) on July 19.  By August 2, the declaration was signed.

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