British America and
the British West Indies
Top: Flag of Great Britain
Bottom: Colonial Red Ensign
|Status||Colonies of England (1585–1707)|
Colonies of Scotland
Colonies of Great Britain (1707–1783)
|Capital||Administered from London, England|
|Common languages||English (de facto official) |
West African languages (spoken among the imported African slaves in the beginning)
|Religion||Anglicanism, Protestantism, Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Native American religions, Traditional African religions, Sunni Islam (practiced by some West African slaves in the beginning)|
|James VI and I (first)|
|George III (last)|
|Currency||Pound sterling, Spanish dollar, bills of credit, commodity money, and many local currencies|
British America comprised the colonial territories of the English Empire, and the successor British Empire, in the Americas from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies just before the thirteen of the colonies declared their independence in the American Revolution (1765–1791) and formed the United States of America.
After the American Revolutionary War, the term British North America was used to refer to the remainder of Great Britain's possessions in what became Canada, and British West Indies to various islands and what became Belize. The term British North America was used in 1783, but it was more commonly used after the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), generally known as the Durham Report.
Main article: English overseas possessions § The Americas
Further information: First British Empire
A number of English colonies were established in America between 1607 and 1670 by individuals and companies whose investors expected to reap rewards from their speculation. They were granted commercial charters by Kings James I, Charles I, and Charles II, as well as Parliament. The London Company founded the first permanent settlement in 1607 on the James River at Jamestown, Virginia upstream from Chesapeake Bay. This was followed in 1620, when the Pilgrims established the Plymouth settlement in New England. English Catholics settled the Province of Maryland in 1634, under Cecilus Calvert, second Lord Baltimore.
A state department in London known as the Southern Department governed all the colonies beginning in 1660, as well as a committee of the Privy Council called the Board of Trade and Plantations. In 1768, Parliament created a specific state department for America, but it was disbanded in 1782 when the Home Office took responsibility for the remaining possessions of British North America in Eastern Canada, the Floridas, and the West Indies.
British America gained large amounts of territory with the Treaty of Paris of 1763, which ended the French and Indian War in America and the Seven Years' War in Europe. At the start of the American Revolutionary War in 1775, the British Empire included 23 colonies and territories on the North American continent. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 ended the Revolutionary War, and Britain lost much of this territory to the newly formed United States. In addition, Britain ceded East and West Florida to the Kingdom of Spain, which in turn ceded them to the United States in 1821. Most of the remaining colonies to the north formed Canada in 1867, with the Dominion of Newfoundland joining in 1949.
In the Caribbean, the British West Indies and other European sugar colonies were at the center for the Atlantic slave trade.
The Thirteen Colonies that became the original states of the United States:
Colonies and territories that became part of Canada:
Colonies and territories that were ceded to Spain or the United States in 1783: