The United States was created by English speaking people who lived in 13 distinct colonies strung out along the Atlantic coast. By the time they declared independence in 1776, they had been living there for over 150 years. They were all from the same mother country, but the 13 colonies were all different. In fact, most historians agree that only by the particular alignment of factors, brilliant leadership, and a willingness to compromise, did they ever agree to fight for independence at all.

Why were they so different, and how so? Why do we have to speak of them as 13 colonies rather than England in America? Certainly you and your friends are not so different. Even you and your neighbors are not so different that you would need to create separate colonies if you moved to a new land. Why was it then that the English settlers ended up so divided? Why were the British colonies so different?