Life in the Thirteen Colonies

Start Free Trial

How long was America a colony of the British empire?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Arguably, the period during which the United States was a British Colony was from 1606, when King James I sent British explorers to establish colonies along the East Coast of the United States, to 1776, when the congress of the thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Arguably, the period during which the United States was a British Colony was from 1606, when King James I sent British explorers to establish colonies along the East Coast of the United States, to 1776, when the congress of the thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration, the colonies announced they were 'absolved from all allegiance to the British crown.'

However, the argument could be made that it wasn't until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 that the independence of the United States was truly recognized by the British Empire, as no document was signed by the British until The Treaty of Paris was signed in September 1783 and the former colonies were granted independence.

We do also have to consider, however, that the British still maintained influence in the geography of the United States past the Revolutionary War. Disputes in borders in the North West, now the states of Washington and Oregon, along with trade disputes and deteriorating relations between the two countries, caused tension between the Americans and the British. The North West would not be fully integrated into the United States, effectively removing the influence of the British, until the 1846 signing of The Oregon Treaty.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team