British colonization of the Americas

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European colonization
of the Americas
First colonization
British
Couronian
Danish
Dutch
French
German
Norse
Portuguese
Russian
Scottish
Spanish
Swedish
Colonization of Canada
Colonization of the U.S.
Decolonization

British colonization of the Americas (including colonization by both the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland before the Acts of Union which created the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707) began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia and reached its peak when colonies had been established throughout the Americas. The English, and later the British, were among the most important colonizers of the Americas, and their American empire came to rival the Spanish American colonies in military and economic might.

Three types of colonies existed in the British Empire in America during the height of its power in the eighteenth century. These were charter colonies, proprietary colonies and royal colonies. After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, British territories in the Americas were slowly granted more responsible government. In 1838 the Durham Report recommended full responsible government but this did not get fully implemented for another decade. Eventually with the Confederation of Canada, the Canadian colonies were granted a significant amount of autonomy and became a self-governing Dominion in 1867. Other colonies in the rest of the Americas followed at a much slower pace. In this way, two countries in North America, ten in the Caribbean, and one in South America have received their independence from the United Kingdom. All of these are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and nine are Commonwealth realms. The eight remaining British overseas territories in the Americas have varying degrees of self-government.

Britain in the Americas

North America[edit]

Pre-British colonization of North America[edit]

English colonies in North America[edit]

Plaque in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, commemorating Gilbert's founding of the British overseas Empire

A number of English colonies were established under a system of independent Proprietary Governors, who were appointed under mercantile charters to English joint stock companies to found and run settlements, most notably the Virginia Company, which created the first successful English settlement at Jamestown and the second at St. George's, Bermuda.

England also took over the Dutch colony of New Netherland (including the New Amsterdam settlement) which was renamed the Province of New York in 1664. With New Netherland, the English also came to control the former New Sweden (in what is now Delaware), which the Dutch had conquered earlier. This later became part of Pennsylvania after it was established in 1680.

Scottish colonies in North America[edit]

There was also an early unsuccessful attempt by the Kingdom of Scotland to establish a colony at Darién, and the short-lived Scottish colonization of Nova Scotia (New Scotland) from 1629 to 1632. Thousands of Scotsmen also participated in the English colonization even before the two countries were united in 1707.

British colonies in North America[edit]

The Kingdom of Great Britain acquired the French colony of Acadia in 1713 and then Canada and the Spanish colony of Florida in 1763. After being renamed the Province of Quebec, the former French Canada was divided in two Provinces, the Canadas, consisting of the old settled country of Lower Canada (today Quebec) and the newly settled Upper Canada (today Ontario).

In the north, the Hudson's Bay Company actively traded for fur with the indigenous peoples, and had competed with French, Aboriginal, and Metis fur traders. The company came to control the entire drainage basin of Hudson Bay called Rupert's Land. The small part of the Hudson Bay drainage which are south of the 49th parallel went to the United States in the Anglo-American Convention of 1818.

Thirteen of Great Britain's colonies rebelled with the American Revolutionary War, beginning in 1775, primarily over representation, local laws and tax issues, and established the United States of America, which was recognized internationally with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783) on September 3 of that year (1783).

Great Britain also colonized the west coast of North America, indirectly via the Hudson's Bay Company licenses west of the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia and New Caledonia fur districts, most of which were jointly claimed as the Oregon Country by the United States from 1818 until the 49th parallel was established as the international boundary west of the Rockies by the Oregon Treaty of 1846. The colonies of Vancouver Island, founded in 1849, and the Colony of British Columbia, founded in 1858, were combined in 1866 with the name Crown Colony of British Columbia until joining Confederation in 1871. British Columbia also was expanded with the inclusion of the Stikine Territory in 1863, and upon joining Confederation with the addition of the Peace River Block, formerly part of Rupert's Land.

In 1867, the colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (the southern portion of modern-day Ontario and Quebec) combined to form a self-governing dominion, named Canada, within the British Empire. Quebec (including what is now the southern portion of Ontario) and Nova Scotia (including what is now New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) had been ceded to Britain by the French. The colonies of Prince Edward Island and British Columbia joined over the next six years, and Newfoundland joined in 1949. Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory were ceded to Canada in 1870. This area now consists of the provinces of Manitoba (admitted after negotiation between Canada and a Métis provisional government in 1870), Saskatchewan, and Alberta (both created in 1905), as well as the Northwest Territories, the Yukon Territory (created 1898, following the start of the Klondike Gold Rush), and Nunavut (created in 1999).

List of English and British colonies in North America[edit]

The British Colonies in North America, 1763-1775

Non-colonial British territories in North America[edit]

Central and South America, Caribbean[edit]

English and later British Caribbean colonies[edit]

Planter and his wife, with a servant, circa 1780

In order of settlement or founding:

English and later British Central and South American colonies[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "William Vaughan and New Cambriol". Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site Project. Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  2. ^ Nicholas Canny, The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume I: The Origins of Empire: British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century , 2001, ISBN 0-19-924676-9.
  3. ^ "Early Settlement Schemes". Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site Project. Memorial University of Newfoundland. 1998. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  4. ^ Paul O'Neill, The Oldest City: The Story of St. John's, Newfoundland, 2003, ISBN 0-9730271-2-6.
  5. ^ Colony of Avalon, [1], Colony of Avalon Foundation, Revised March 2002, accessed August 27, 2006
  6. ^ "The Belize Position". Government of Belize. Retrieved 2006-09-12. 

External links[edit]