During the 18th century, most of the Colonies in North America were operated under British rule, even though the British were the last European country to colonize the Americas. The colonies themselves were, in large part, stable and profitable, and they didn't consider themselves a unified whole. Many events that led to the War of Independence in 1776 occurred in just thirteen years, between 1763 and 1776.
Taxes in the colonies were relatively low compared to those paid by British citizens, and the British decided to raise Colony taxes. Some of the Colonies refused to pay the raised taxes, causing Britain to send military forces and royalist officials overseas to directly implement British rule. Inspection of Colonial ships for disallowed cargo occurred often. Trial by jury was nonexistent; the British legal system levied direct judgement without appeal. For their part, the Colonies thought that they no longer needed British military forces for protection, since the French had mostly pulled out of the area; they also considered their work in surveying and developing new lands to be sufficient payment without higher taxes. The 1765 Stamp Act, which required documented proof of all trade and taxes levied, proved too much for the Colonies to bear, and they boycotted British businesses until the Act was repealed.
After the Boston Massacre in 1770, followed by the British East India Company's monopoly on the Tea trade and the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773, tensions in the Colonies grew to the breaking point. The 1774 British Coercive Acts were a direct punishment to the Colonies, and led to the First Continental Congress, assembled in 1774 with delegates from twelve of the thirteen Colonies, and the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, which contained some of the language and structure of the eventual Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson in 1776.