The Thirteen Colonies were a group of
British colonies on the east coast of
North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries that
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 and the Caribbean, as well as
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. However, the Thirteen Colonies had a high degree of self-governance and active local elections, and they resisted London's demands for more control.
French and Indian War (1754–63) against France and its Indian allies led to greater tensions between the British and the Thirteen Colonies. In the 1750s, the colonies began collaborating with one another instead of dealing directly with Britain. These inter-colonial activities cultivated a sense of shared American identity and led to calls for protection of the colonists' "
Rights as Englishmen", especially the principle of "
no taxation without representation". Grievances with the British government led to the
American Revolution, in which the colonies collaborated in forming a
Continental Congress which declared independence in 1776 and fought the
American Revolutionary War (1775–83) with the aid of
Dutch Republic, and Spain.