The first thirteen colonies - American Revolutionary War answers questions
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American History

Thirteen States

The first European people who came to the east coast of North America, in the 1600s and 1700s, came for many different reasons, so their settlements were very different from each other. The earliest successful settlement was in Florida, in 1565 AD, when Spanish explorers founded the city of St. Augustine. The second successful settlement was in 1607, when English adventurers settled at Jamestown, Virginia. The Paspahegh people who lived in the area tried to push them out, but could not and were defeated. Dutch traders settled in New York in 1614 to trade with the Iroquois for furs. Another settlement was in Massachusetts in 1620, when the Puritans came in the Mayflower from England to live according to their religion. In 1631, Dutch traders settled in Delaware and made arrangements with the local Delaware people to trade with them for furs. In 1681, a group of Quakers came from England, led by a man called William Penn, and they called the place where they settled down Pennsylvania (Penn's woods).

By the time of the American Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence, there were thirteen English colonies that decided to become the United States. They were (from north to south):

  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts (Maine split off from Massachusetts later)
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Virginia (Kentucky and West Virginia split off later)
  • North Carolina (Tennessee split off later)
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia

Florida was English by this time but chose not to participate in the Revolution. Florida stayed loyal to England during the Revolution, then became Spanish again after England lost the war. Florida joined the United States only under Andrew Jackson in 1821.

Learn by doing: try to spot license plates from all 13 original states
More about the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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Now that the weather's nice, try some of these outdoor activities! How about bicycle polo, or archery for a Medieval Islam day? Or kite flying or making a compass for a day in Medieval China? How about making a shaduf for a day in Ancient Egypt? Holding an Ancient Greek Olympic Games or a medieval European tournament? Building a Native American wickiup?