Myth of the 13 American Colonies

American history trivia

Myth: There Were 13 Colonies

Truth: Like the rest of us, you probably bought the ol’ Thirteen Colonies story, but it’s not an accurate depiction of colonial America for most of its history. As settlements were founded, each new city was recognized as its own colony: for example, Connecticut contained 500 distinct “colonies” before they were merged into one in 1661. Sometimes colonies were mashed together into mega-colonies, like the short-lived, super-unpopular Dominion of New England, which incorporated Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine, plus New York and New Jersey for a couple of years. Colonies also split, like Massachusetts, which spawned New Hampshire in 1679. And some colonies weren’t colonies at all: while it’s often listed as one of the Thirteen Colonies that rebelled in 1775, Delaware wasn’t technically a colony or a province. Designated “the Lower Counties on the Delaware,” it had its own assembly but fell under the authority of the governor of Pennsylvania until it declared itself an independent state in August 1776. So technically, there were just 12 colonies in 1775 and 13 states in 1776.


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