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The Thirteen Colonies were a group of British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries. The American Enlightenment led these colonies to the American Revolutionary War. They declared independence as the United States of America in July 1776, which was achieved by 1783 under the Treaty of Paris.
|Anthem: God Save the King|
|Government||Various colonial arrangements|
|James I & VI (first)|
|George III (last)|
The Thirteen Colonies in their traditional groupings were: the New England Colonies, which included New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut; the Middle Colonies, which included New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware; and the Southern Colonies, which included Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems, dominated by Protestant English-speakers. The first of these colonies was Virginia, established in 1607. The founding of the New England Colonies, Maryland, and Pennsylvania were substantially motivated by their founders' concerns related to the practice of religion. The other colonies were founded for business and economic expansion. The Middle Colonies were established on the Dutch colony of New Netherland. All 13 colonies were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included territory in Canada, Florida, and the Caribbean.
The colonial population grew from about 2,000 to 2.4 million between 1625 and 1775, displacing Native Americans. 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 13 colonies had a high degree of self-governance and active local elections, and they resisted London's demands for more control over them. The French and Indian War (1754–1763) against France and its Indian allies led to growing tensions between Britain and the 13 colonies. During the 1750s, the colonies began collaborating with one another instead of dealing directly with Britain. With the help of colonial printers and newspapers, these inter-colonial activities and concerns were shared and led to calls for protection of the colonists' "Rights as Englishmen", especially the principle of "no taxation without representation". Conflicts with the British government over taxes and rights led to the American Revolution, in which the colonies worked together to form the Continental Congress and raised the Continental Army. The colonists fought the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) with the aid of the Kingdom of France and, to a much lesser degree, the Dutch Republic and the Kingdom of Spain.
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