What Are Some Facts About the 13 Original Colonies?

The 13 colonies were the forerunners of the modern United States and started out as British colonies on the eastern seaboard of North America. During the American Revolution, the 13 colonies overthrew British rule, eventually defeating the British and establishing an independent nation.

Conditions in England during the 16th century favored the development of colonies. The underproduction of food, overpopulation, the development of mercantilism and the persecution of various religious groups ensured that England had much to gain from establishing colonies.

Settlers established the first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, in Virginia in 1607. The Pilgrims, a group of Puritan separatists, established a colony in Plymouth in 1620. Colonists settled Maryland in 1632. During the next two centuries, additional colonies grew in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, as well as in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

The original settlements in Massachusetts by the Pilgrims soon expanded into nearby areas, driven by colonists who felt that Massachusetts was either too restrictive (Rhode Island) or not restrictive enough (Connecticut). Pennsylvania was founded in 1680 by William Penn, a Quaker who maintained religious freedom in his colony.

The colonies in Carolina stood south of Virginia and relied heavily on mass agricultural production. The Carolina colony split into North and South Carolina in 1729. In 1732 the final of the thirteen colonies, Georgia, represented a barrier between the Carolinas and Spanish settlements in Florida.