American Revolutionary War > Thirteen Colonies

Thirteen Colonies

Background

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. They declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, the Caribbean, and the Floridas.

Between 1625 and 1775, the colonial population grew from roughly 2,000 to over 2.5 million, displacing American Indians. This population included people subject to a system of slavery, which was legal in all of the colonies prior to the American Revolutionary War. In the 18th century, the British government operated its colonies under a policy of mercantilism, in which the central government administered its possessions for the economic benefit of the mother country.

The Thirteen Colonies had a high degree of self-governance and active local elections, and they resisted London's demands for more control. The French and Indian War (1754–63) against France and its Indian allies led to growing tensions between Britain and the Thirteen Colonies. In the 1750s, the colonies began collaborating with one another instead of dealing directly with Britain.

These inter-colonial activities cultivated a sense of shared American identity and led to calls for protection of the colonists' "Rights as Englishmen", especially the principle of "no taxation without representation". Grievances with the British government led to the American Revolution, in which the colonies collaborated in forming the Continental Congress. The colonists fought the American Revolutionary War (1775–83) with the aid of France and, to a significantly smaller degree, the Dutch Republic and Spain.

Thirteen Colonies Map - Cooper Collections of US History (1876)

American Colonies Population

YearPopulationYearsSlaves Imported
16251,9801620–170021,000
164150,000
1688200,000
1702270,0001701–1760189,000
1715435,000
17491,000,000
17541,500,0001761–177063,000
17652,200,0001771–178015,000
17752,400,000Total287,000

By the outbreak of American Revolutionary War in 1776 there was an 85% white population in the Thirteen Colonies that was composed mostly of British, English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh origin. There was also a German population of 9% and a Dutch population of 4%.

The population of the United States would continue to rise exponentially over the following 18th century due to low infant mortality, high immigrant rates and low death rates.

British Colonies (1763-76) - Historical Atlas (1923)

Join or Die - The Pennsylvania Gazette (9 May 1754)

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources