Original North American colonies that signed the Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1776. After the Continental Army (the first regular US fighting force, organized in 1775 to supplement local militias) defeated the British army in the American Revolution 1776–81, the 13 colonies became the original 13 United States of America: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. They were united first under the Articles of Confederation and from 1789, the US Constitution.
English adventurer Walter Raleigh founded the first English colony in 1585, in the territory he named Virginia, after the ‘Virgin Queen’, Elizabeth I. The colony failed, but in 1607 a second Virginian colony was established at Jamestown, by John Smith. By 1649 Virginia had a royal charter and considerable self-government. Royalist exiles from the English Civil War began to settle in the colony around this time.
Religious persecution in England led to the foundation of the New England colonies. The first of these was established in 1620 when the Pilgrims sailed to the New World in the Mayflower and landed at Plymouth Rock, in what is now Massachusetts. The Pilgrims went on to found the colony of Connecticut in 1635. The foundation in 1634 of Maryland, for the settlement of English Catholics, marked a new kind of colony, one practically owned and ruled by a lord-proprietor holding a royal charter. William Penn founded Pennsylvania as a refuge for Quakers in 1862. Georgia, founded in 1733 by English philanthropist James Oglethorpe as a colony for the industrious poor, was the last of the 13 original colonies to be chartered.
The American Revolution
The Collapse of the Colonial System: George III and the Loss of America
Charter of Massachusetts Bay
First Virginia Charter
Instructions for the Virginia Colony
North Carolina Biennial Act
Second Virginia Charter
Third Virginia Charter
Virginia Declaration of Rights
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