In a period of almost 150 years during the 17th and 18th centuries, the British established 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast that provided a profitable trade and a home to a diverse group of people.
Overview: From the establishment of the first permanent English settlement in North America to the start of a decisive war for European control of the continent, the colonies evolved. At first, they struggled for survival, but they became a society of permanent farms, plantations, towns, and cities. European settlers brought various cultures, economic plans, and ideas for governing to the Americas. In particular, with varying approaches, they all sought to dominate the native inhabitants. The British took pride in their tradition of free farmers working the land. The various colonies developed regional or sectional differences based on many influences including topography, natural resources, climate, and the background of their settlers. They largely viewed the American Indian as an obstacle to colonial growth. With their emphasis on agriculture came a demand for labor, and this led to a growing dependence on slavery and the Atlantic slave trade to power the economy. The start of the Seven Years' War signified the maturity of the British colonies and the influence of European conflicts in the power struggle for control in North America.
Alternate View: Historians disagree on what date best marks the end of the colonial era. Some identify the conclusion of the Seven Years' War in 1763 or the start of the American Revolution in 1775 or the signing of a peace treaty in 1783. Historians who focus on cultural rather than political and military events might choose other dates for both the start and end of the period that emphasize the role of non-English residents, such as the Scotch-Irish, Germans, and enslaved Africans, in the colonies.
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