History: Colonial Period

Early Settlement

Reason for Settlement

In the 1600s and 1700s, colonists from England and other European countries sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the American colonies. Some left Europe to escape religious restrictions or persecution, to practice their religion freely. Many came for political freedom, and some came for economic opportunity. These freedoms and opportunities often did not exist in the colonists' home countries. For these settlers, the American colonies were a chance for freedom and a new life. Today, many people come to the United States for these same reasons.

Other residents

When these Europeans arrived they found Native Americans living in present-day America. In addition, Africans were soon brought to American as slaves.

The 13 Original

These settlers lived in the original 13 colonies. They are now known as the thirteen (13) original states which are:

Pick your favorite three (3) and remember them for the exam!


The American Colonies were initially part of Great Britain. Some of the colonies even had official ties with the King. However, Great Britain took steps to irritate the colonists and eventually force them to delclare independance. The colonists fought the British because they had to pay high taxes without political representation (taxation without representation), becuase the British army stayed in their houses, and most importanlty becuase they didn't have self-government. They wanted a democracy where everyone had a say which is why on July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson (and others) adopted the Declaration of Independence.

The Fouding Fathers knew they needed to plan and organize their colonies which is why on 1787 they met at the Consitutional Convention, in which they wrote the Constitution. As you remember, the Constitution is the framework for our government until this present day. However, during the time, many people didn't agree and were even afraid of a central government, these people wanted power to remain in the states/colonies (Anti-Federalists). There were others at the time who worked hard to make sure the Constitution passed. These people who wanted the Constitution were called Federalists. Some of the Federalists include, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. These two guys were writers of the "Federalist Papers" which supported the passage of the Constitution. In addition to Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson, the other two great "players" from this time are Benjamin Franklin (you may have seen him on the $100 bills) and George Washington. Benjamin Franklin was very talented and passionate about different things. He is famous for being a U.S. diplomat, the oldest member of the Constitutional Convention, the first Postmaster General of the United States, writer of "Poor Richard's Almanac", and starting the first free libraries in the country. And last but not least, we have George Washington, the first President of the United States and General who helped defeat the British and gain American indepence. He is known as the "Father of Our Country".

Quiz on Colonial History and Independence