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In 1776, the 13 American colonies, ostensibly angered at rates of taxation without representation in the British Parliament, declared independence from Great Britain. Although the attempt to secede, today known as the American Rebellion, failed, it did sow the seeds for the foundation of modern-day America.
After the crushing rebel defeat at Saratoga, in 1777, American resistance to British rule crumbled. In order to prevent further unrest, however, the British government led by Lord North made a number of concessions, coupled with a major re-organization of British interests in North America.
The thirteen American colonies were merged into just three - New England in the north, Virginia in the centre and Carolina in the south. Each of the three colonies was assigned a permanent military presence and a regional Governor. In addition, from 1782 a permanent Viceroy was assigned to protect British America. Further north, the colonies in Canada remained unchanged, as they had shown no compulsion to fight against their colonial master. The Great Lakes region was placed under Canadian control.
As counterbalance to this re-organisation, North permitted the Continental Congress to continue, granting a limited form of self-government to America. Each colony too, over time, received a degree of internal autonomy and responsible government. New England was the first to be granted self-government, in 1808, followed by Carolina in 1812 and Virginia in 1817. At around the same time, British troops in America seized and occupied the French-controlled Louisiana territory, much of which was placed under Canadian jurisdiction to prevent American expansion. In 1829, the north-western part of Virginia was granted autonomy under the name Indiana.
In 1835, Texas seceded from Mexico. Texas had a large white, Anglo-Saxon population who had settled there due to rich lands there and resented Mexican rule. With a Mexican threat still prevalent, the provisional Texan government asked for British protection. Britain agreed, and in 1840 Texas formally became a colony of Great Britain, bringing the American total to five. In 1846 this was increased to six when the American segment of Louisiana became a formal colony.
On July 1, 1876, the six American colonies were granted nominal independence as a British Dominion, in much the same fashion as Canada had achieved it nine years before. The Virginian city of Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed 100 years before, was chosen as the new capital for the Commonwealth of America. The title of the Viceroy was changed to Governor-General, with fewer powers, and an independent government was set up, headed by a Prime Minister. The prominent Indianan politician Rutherford Hayes was chosen as the first American Prime Minister.
- List of American Viceroys and Governors-General
- List of American Prime Ministers
- Parliament of America
States of the Commonwealth of America