The 13 Original Colonies
America as we know it today did not exist in the 1600s. It was a vast wilderness filled with native tribes and wildlife. Throughout the 17th century, settlers from Europe began to land on the shores of what is today America and claim land for their countries. These pioneers were making their homes in uncharted land before the days of email and world phones. They literally left everything they knew and loved behind in order to settle this New World.
Soon the struggle for land began, and it lasted over 100 years. The English who settled in Jamestown were the first to start a permanent settlement in North America. Soon after the Pilgrims, who were also English, set up the Plymouth colony in modern Massachusetts, and quickly more and more English colonies were developed in the northeast coastline. The Swedish and Dutch settled further inland, near what is today New York. They eventually gave the land to England. The Spaniards settled some in the southeast, but they were eventually pushed farther south and west. France also held some land, which was fought over in the French and Indian War.
Eventually, England had claim to the first 13 colonies, which were the foundation for modern America. After the Revolutionary War, the war in which the 13 colonies separated from England, the young nation created the Constitution, which each of the 13 colonies ratified in order to become part of the new United States of America.
The Original 13 Colonies
- Virginia: Founded by John Smith in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia is the colony that can boast the first permanent settlement. It was named after the “Virgin Queen,” England’s Elizabeth I. The colony joined the Union on June 25,1788.
- New York: Founded by Peter Minuit in 1624, the New York colony was originally called New Netherlands by its Dutch settlers. It became known as New York when James, the Duke of York, received control of it in 1664. It became a state on July 25 1788.
- Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Bay colony included modern day Main and Massachusetts. It was founded by John Winthrop in 1630, but the first permanent settlement in the area was Plymouth, home of the Pilgrims, which was settled in 1620. They ratified the Constitution to enter the Union on February 6, 1788.
- Maryland: Lord Baltimore founded the city of Baltimore in 1633. The Maryland colony is named for Queen Henrietta Maria of England. It became a state on April 28, 1788.
- Rhode Island: Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams in 1636 as a place for people who left Massachusetts Bay in an attempt to find freedom of worship. Rhode Island was the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution, which it did on May 29, 1790.
- Connecticut: The first settlement in what is today Connecticut was created in 1636 by Thomas Hooker. Hooker brought settlers from Massachusetts Bay and founded the city of Hartford. It became a state on January 9, 1788.
- New Hampshire: John Wheelwright founded the colony of New Hampshire in 1638. It was named after Hampshire, a county in England. It became a state on June 21, 1788.
- Delaware: Founded by Peter Minuit in 1638, Delaware became a link between the middle colonies and northern colonies. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution and became a state on December 7, 1787.
- North Carolina: Colonists from nearby Virginia founded the colony of North Carolina in 1653. North Carolina became a state on November 21, 1789.
- New Jersey: The Dutch were the first to settle in what is now New Jersey, but they had little impact on the region. It was not until the Duke of York was granted the former Dutch territory in 1664 that significant settlements were created in this area. The colony was named after Sir George Carteret, governor of Jersey. It became a state on December 18, 1787.
- South Carolina: The first permanent settlement in South Carolina was settled by English colonists in Charleston in 1670. It became a state on May 23, 1788.
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn in 1682 when he created the first settlement, which was called Philadelphia. They ratified the Constitution on December 12, 1787.
- Georgia: The southernmost of the first thirteen colonies was founded by James Oglethorpe in 1732. It was named after King George II of England. It became a state in January 2, 1788.
When Did They Become a State?
Find out when the rest of the United States joined the Union.
- Vermont: March 4, 1791
- Kentucky: June 1, 1792
- Tennessee: June 1, 1796
- Ohio: March 1, 1803
- Louisiana: April 30, 1812
- Indiana: December 11, 1816
- Mississippi: December 10, 1817
- Illinois: December 3, 1818
- Alabama: December 14, 1819
- Maine: March 15, 1820
- Missouri: August 10, 1821
- Arkansas: June 15, 1836
- Michigan: January 26, 1837
- Florida: March 3, 1845
- Texas: December 29, 1845
- Iowa: December 28, 1846
- Wisconsin: May 29, 1848
- California: September 9, 1850
- Minnesota: May 11, 1858
- Oregon: February 14, 1859
- Kansas: January 29, 1861
- West Virginia: June 20, 1863
- Nevada: October 31, 1864
- Nebraska: March 1, 1867
- Colorado: August 1, 1876
- North Dakota: November 2, 1889
- South Dakota: November 2, 1889
- Montana: November 8, 1889
- Washington: November 11, 1889
- Idaho: July 3, 1890
- Wyoming: July 10, 1890
- Utah: January 4, 1896
- Oklahoma: November 16, 1907
- New Mexico: January 6, 1912
- Arizona: February 14, 1912
- Alaska: January 3, 1959
- Hawaii: August 21, 1959
Thirteen Originals: Provides detailed information about the 13 original colonies
Plymouth and New England Colonies: Information about the beginnings of America
Explore Early America: A collection of historic documents from America’s colonial period
Dates the States Joined the Union: Contains interesting trivia about each state, along with the date it joined the United States