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The 13 British Colonies in America or American colonies or thirteen colonies or colonial America, that were established during the 17th and early 18th centuries in what is now a part of the eastern United States.

The robust and zealous nature of community life in Puritan New England and its habit of self-rule were dramatically apparent toward the end of the seventeenth century, when the Crown attempted to establish its authority more firmly throughout the northeast. King James II established the Dominion of New England, which combined Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire into a single government under a royal governor. James II annexed Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and the Jerseys to the Dominion, and had his sights on Pennsylvania at the time he was ousted. The most memorable figure associated with the Dominion was the hated Sir Edmund Andros, who took power in late 1686. Andros enraged the colonists by imposing taxes and jailing those who protested.


Ousting a tyrant

On April 4, 1689, word reached Boston that William and Mary had deposed King James and “all magistrates who have been unjustly turned out” should resume “their former employment.” Colonists threw Andros and his councillors into jail, the eminent Puritan divine Cotton Mather drew up the “Declaration of the Gentlemen, Merchants, and Inhabitants”; the confederate “Dominion” was abolished, and self-rule was restored.

The same spirit led the colonists to reject Benjamin Franklin’s proposed Albany Plan of Union in 1754, which called on the colonies to yield authority to a new intercolonial government to help coordinate defense against the Indians. Not a single colonial assembly ratified the plan.

The legacy of British Colonies in America

The colonists loved liberty and were wary of confederations, which is why three states—Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island—explicitly reserved during the ratification of the Constitution the right to withdraw from the Union should it become oppressive. They were exercising the libertarian principles that were America’s first principles.

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