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The 13 original colonies whose representatives signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence

The Thirteen 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.

Geographical type: Territory

Notable Places

  • Carolina, North - The Tarheel State - ratified Constitution 21 Nov 1789
  • Carolina, South - The Palmetto State - ratified Constitution 23 May 1788
  • Connecticut - The Constitution State - ratified Constitution 9 Jan 1788
  • Delaware - Motto: Liberty and Independence - ratified Constitution 7 Dec 1787
  • Georgia - The Peach State - ratified Constitution 2 Jan 1788
  • Maryland - The Free State - ratified Constitution 28 Apr 1788
  • Massachusetts - The Bay State - ratified Constitution 6 Feb 1788
  • New Hampshire - Motto: Live Free or Die - ratified Constitution 21 Jun 1788
  • New Jersey - Motto: Liberty and Prosperity - ratified Constitution 18 Dec 1787
  • New York - The Empire State - ratified Constitution 26 Jul 1788
  • Pennsylvania - The Keystone State - ratified Constitution 12 Dec 1787
  • Rhode Island - The Ocean State - ratified Constitution 29 May 1790
  • Virginia - The Old Dominion - ratified Constitution 23 Jun 1788


Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand, by Edmund A. Opitz, The Freeman, Jun 1976
Explains mercantilism, the rationales for political power, government's proper role, Smith's "invisible hand" metaphor, his concept of "equality, liberty and justice" and how a free society allocates economic goods; from a lecture given 17 Feb 1976
The Wealth of Nations sold briskly in the American colonies, some 2,500 copies within five years of publication, even though our people were at war. This is a remarkable fact, for there were only three million people living on these shores two centuries ago, and about one-third of these were Loyalists ... The colonies ... were largely agricultural; but of necessity there were also artisans of all sorts. There had to be carpenters and cabinet makers, bricklayers and blacksmiths, weavers and tailors, gunsmiths and bootmakers. These colonial manufacturers and farmers had been practicing economic freedom all along ...
The Colonial Venture of Ireland, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, May 2004
Historical account of Ireland from its earliest inhabitants, through various invaders, conflicts with the English and between Catholics and Protestants, to the mid-nineteenth century
Many of the British who became prominent in the American colonies had been connected with the Irish experience. For example, the first Indian reservation agent—Gookin of Massachusetts—had seen military service in Ireland, as had many of the leaders of the original Virginia Company ... Meanwhile, the American colonies had also become restless under British rule. The Revolution of 1776 had many friends in Ireland who sympathized with Benjamin Franklin's appeal for their support against a common enemy ... By 1770, ... [a]t least one American in six living south of New England was of Irish origin.
Related Topics: England, Free trade, Ireland
History Lesson Lost, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Oct 2006
Discusses the Articles of Confederation, based mostly on The Articles of Confederation: An Interpretation of the Social-Constitutional History of the American Revolution, 1774-1781 (1940) by Merrill Jensen
Jensen goes on to describe the deep division that existed in the British North American colonies and, after the Revolution, in the states. Groups of people are rarely of one mind, and the colonies and states were no exception ... a privileged elite came to dominate the government of each colony; power and land were handed out as royal favors, and the recipients became entrenched ... These people came to think of themselves as the wise aristocracy destined to govern, and they were not eager to give up power to the radical democrats who were the first to push for independence from Britain.
How Empires Bamboozle the Bourgeoisie, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 28 Oct 2006
Speech at the Mises Institute Supporter's Summit; comments on two issues related to the U.S. population reaching 300 million: what kind of economy is needed to support that population and do all these people need to live under the same central government
[W]e should reflect on the reality that self-governing communities were precisely the experience of Colonial America. The colonies traded with each other and with the rest of the world. Citizens moved to locations based on the relative liberality of laws. Our colonial ancestors were widely read. They learned from the experience of Rome that republican government can only coexist with liberty when both the territory and the population size are small. Otherwise, they degenerate into despotic ... schemes ... The knowledge of this reality is what led to the revolt against their masters overseas.
Journals of the Continental Congress: Resolution of Richard Henry Lee; June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee, 7 Jun 1776
The Avalon Project, Yale Law School
Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
The Philosophy of Paine, by Thomas Edison, The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison, 7 Jun 1925
Edison laments the lack of interest in Paine's writings, outlines his life, discusses the main writings and encourages others to read him
Looking back to those times we cannot, without much reading, clearly gauge the sentiment of the Colonies. Perhaps the larger number of responsible men still hoped for peace with England. They did not even venture to express the matter that way. Few men, indeed, had thought in terms of war. Then Paine wrote 'Common Sense,' an anonymous tract which immediately stirred the fires of liberty. It flashed from hand to hand throughout the Colonies.
The Rocky Road of American Taxation, by Charles Adams, Mises Daily, 15 Apr 2006
Adapted from the author's For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization; examines tax resistance in colonial America up to the Jefferson presidency
The Stamp Act was no mere mite to the colonist. Colonial legislatures held emergency sessions. There were town meetings, speeches, and pamphlets condemning the tax ... Governors wrote home to Britain advising the government that the rebellion could not be curbed ... Most important, the Stamp Act united the colonies—something that had been impossible up to 1765. Massachusetts called for a congress of the colonies, and delegates appeared from almost all colonial governments ... The Boston Tea Party was a turning point in colonial reaction to British rule. By 1773 the tax issue was becoming obscure.
War Is Peace and Other Things the Government Wants You to Believe [PDF], by Sheldon Richman, 8 Jun 2008
Transcript of speech given at The Future of Freedom Foundation's 2008 conference, “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy & Civil Liberties”, including audience questions
In [Merrill] Jensen's view there was both an external ... and an internal revolution ... The internal was the struggle between two large factions within each of the colonies. There was an elite that emerged through favors from the British crown. In the South they tended to be the planters, ... and in the North they were merchants. And they had a lot of privileges that they did not want to lose with the Revolution ... [W]hen the Revolution looked inevitable, they did come over to the revolutionary side. But then they wanted a strong national government so they could recreate the privileges.

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thirteen Colonies" as of 2 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.