British Colonization

British colonization of the Americas began in the early 17th century. The earliest colonists from Britain arrived in the Americas to explore the local resources and hoping to find gold. They were soon followed by others who sought to escape religious persecution and find the freedom to practice their beliefs. Within a century or so of the first colony, British colonies lined almost the entire eastern coast of North America.

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown settlement was the first proper British settlement in the Americas. It was established in 1607 near Chesapeake Bay and backed by the London Virginia Company. The Company hoped to find gold in the Americas but instead, the first group of people was met with disaster and death. The people of the Jamestown settlement also fought with some Indian tribes while seeking aid and assistance from others. Ultimately, they were able to thrive by growing tobacco and sending it back to England as a cash crop. The Jamestown eventually expanded to become the vast and affluent British colony of Virginia.

Pilgrims and Massachusetts Bay Colony

Pilgrims were Puritans who came to North America in search for religious freedom. They arrived on the continent aboard the Mayflower ship in 1620. The group included men, women and children. They established the Plymouth Colony. The initial group of Puritans was followed by others who came in larger numbers and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629. Other colonies were also established by the Puritans along the eastern coast. Many of these joined with each other to become larger colonies such as the colony of Connecticut which absorbed the Puritan colonies of New Haven and Saybrook.

British Expansion towards Dutch Colonies

The New Netherland was the key Dutch colony in the Americas. It was centered upon the important harbor city of New Amsterdam. In 1664, the British attacked the colony and seized control of it. They renamed it to New York and added it to many other British colonies located along the eastern coast of North America. The colony of New York expanded and gave birth to other colonies such as New Jersey. These eventually came to be known as the Middle Colonies.

British Colonies in the South

The British began settling in the southern tip of the eastern coast of North America from 1700 onwards. The later colonies were essentially an expansion of the colony of Virginia. The southern colonies eventually came to include Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Carolina and Georgia. Tobacco plantations were the chief crop for most of the planters in these colonies. These colonies also became the home to thousands of slaves who were brought from Africa to work at the plantations.

The End of British Colonization

By the second half of the 18th century, there were thirteen large British colonies along the eastern coast. These colonies wanted to be free from British rule and the taxes imposed by the British government. So they revolted against Britain in 1775 as a part of the American Revolutionary War. The war resulted in the independence of the Thirteen Colonies and gave birth to the United States.