Colonial History of North America

North America borders the Arctic Ocean in the north (latitude 83 ° 07 ′ north, northernmost point of Canada on Ellesmere Island; northernmost point Greenland: latitude 83 ° 39 ′ north), in the east it is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, in the west by the Pacific Ocean. A physical-geographic southern border of North America is often drawn in the area of the isthmus of Tehuantepec, i.e. within Mexico, but culturally Mexico belongs to Latin America. Excluding Mexico, the southernmost point of North America is the southern tip of Florida (25 ° 07 ′north latitude). The distance between the northernmost point on Ellesmere Island and the border with Mexico is around 6,500 km, the east-west extension about the latitude of the island of Newfoundland around 5,500 km as the crow flies. North America has a share of eight time zones.


In addition to Spain, which had initially brought Florida, Mexico and the southwest into its possession, there were mainly Great Britain (including New England) and France (Louisiana) as well as initially the Netherlands (New Netherlands), Sweden (New Sweden) and partly Russia (Alaska) involved in colonization; according to COUNTRYAAH.COM, this had a profound effect on the North American indigenous people. The Indians, involved in colonial rivalries (especially in the Anglo-French struggles in which they took part on both sides), were increasingly displaced from their territories and decimated by wars. On the other hand, the civilizing effect of the European settlement receded strongly (mission attempts, trade, taking over the horse from the Spaniards). From the beginning, the Indians resisted land grabbing and disenfranchisement.

In the 18th century, the dominant position of the British colonies on the east coast, which gradually reached as far as the Appalachians, was secured against the Spanish possessions in the south with the takeover of the two Carolinas (1720/29) and the establishment of Georgia (1732/33) as a defensive border colony. Three regions emerged: 1) New England with its almost entirely English population living in townships (Town) settled, was strongly oriented towards trade and industry and had a high level of education; 2) the Central Atlantic colonies with a strong Dutch-German and Irish-Scottish population, large and medium-sized agricultural holdings and also considerable trade interests; 3) the colonies stretching south from Maryland, in which plantation ownership and monocultures (tobacco, rice, cotton, indigo) predominated and slavery added a strong non-English element to the population.

Although consistently dependent on the British crown or owners (Maryland, Pennsylvania) and thus subject to the central government (Board of Trade) policy aimed at the benefit of the motherland, all colonies achieved a high degree of self-government, with the chambers of representatives of the colonial parliaments becoming increasingly self-confident expanded their position in the political system analogous to that of the British House of Commons. The residents developed an American sense of togetherness; but in 1754 a union of the colonies failed at the Albany Congress. British-French battles over the Ohio Valley triggered the “French and Indian War” (1754–63), which culminated in the conflict of the Seven Years’ War.

Tensions arose from the efforts of the motherland to keep the colonies dependent as suppliers of raw materials and markets for finished goods, but to use them for the defense and administrative burdens (State Revenue Law “Sugar Act”, 1764; stamp duty, 1765; Townshend Acts, 1767 ; Zwangsgesetze, 1774) and their expansion west of the Alleghenies not to be allowed for the time being. Since the colonies had reached a certain maturity in terms of social development, the French threat, if not that of the Indians (“Pontiacs Rebellion”, 1763–66), had ceased in 1763 and provocations on both sides were inevitable (customs policy, Boston Tea Party), the constitutional dispute over the right to tax (“no taxation without representation”) soon led to the independence movement.

The further development of North America was due to the establishment and rapid expansion of the United States of America at the expense of British (1783, Northwest Territory), French (1803 purchase of Louisiana ) and Spanish (1819, Florida), through the establishment of territorial claims in the far Northwest (Oregon) and Winning in the Southwest (1845–48, Mexican War, Texas ; 1853 Gadsden Treaty). The Russian interests (Alaska, seal fishing, East Asia trade) were contractually agreed in 1824 on the northwest coast north of 54 ° 40 ′limited and ended in 1867 with the sale of Alaska to the United States. The rival advance of Canadian and American settlers to the west made it necessary to define borders several times (1818, 1846). In the north of the USA, Canada developed into an independent nation based on the English and French population, which, despite the economic and cultural attraction of the USA, remained part of the Commonwealth.

History of North America