Colonization of North America had begun by early 17th century but the term American Colonies precisely applies to colonies that had been under the British Crown. It is true that the North American continent (i.e., different parts of the mainland and nearby islands) had been occupied by people belonging to different European nations at various points of time. Many of the early settlers, however, could not retain their occupancy owing to clashes over land-holdings.
By the beginning of the 18th century, the two major forces left on North American soil were the English and the French. In the ensuing war, which the Americans refer to as the French and Indian War (fought between 1754 and 1763), England came out victorious and gained control over Canada while retaining its rule over the various English colonies.
The Thirteen British Colonies
The British Colonies, so to speak, were 13 in number and were aptly named Thirteen Colonies. The English colony at Jamestown (present-day Virginia) set up in 1607 A.D. was the first permanent settlement in North America. The Pilgrims followed suit, setting up their own colony at Plymouth (present Massachusetts) in 1620. In the following years, many other American colonies mushroomed along the Atlantic coast. The other English colonies were Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
These Thirteen American Colonies were grouped under three different heads depending on the type of governance:
Charter Colonies – These colonies were established when the British Crown granted a charter, allowing groups of settlers to run the administration / govern the colonies. Connecticut and Rhode Island were the two colonies ruled this way.
Proprietary Colonies – This was again a form of charter rule, only that the governance of the colonies was in the hands of private landowners (or proprietors). Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania were known as proprietary colonies.
Royal Colonies – These colonies were under direct British rule. Georgia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia were under British sovereignty.
End Of Colonization of North America
English rule in North America continued for about two hundred years. In the last phase of colonization, bitterness spread like wild fire even among the colonists. They were regretting the high taxes imposed on them. They were also regretting not being a direct part of the governance.
This led to the Revolutionary War, which the Americans won. With the Declaration of American Independence in 1776, the story of American Colonies came to an end.