Test Your Knowledge of the 13 Colonies

Isadora Teich

Image: DanielBendjy / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Compared to many of the world's countries, the United States of America is actually a baby at less than 250 years old. However, while America started as an independent nation on the world stage in 1776, there is actually a long history before that with its own complex twists and turns. What America began as is very different from the world power it is now. While today America spans thousands of miles across a continent and has a vast empire of land outside of it and military bases all over the world, it began as a few boats of cold and hungry colonists.  

And before them, one of the first people to reach the Americas had no idea he was here at all. Christopher Columbus came to the Americas and thought he had reached India. The initial people of the old world who came to the Americas lived very differently from how we live now. They had less information than we have, poorer technology, and a lot of ideas that modern people would consider just plain wacky. As a British colonial society, things were very different in the 13 colonies. See how much you know about the original 13 colonies with this very historic quiz!  

Different historical eras are referenced in specific ways. What period of North American history is sometimes referred to as Colonial America?

When people talk about Colonial America, they are generally referencing the time between 1607-1776. This covers the time between the establishment of the first English colony and America's independence.

Today America looks very different on a map than it did in the 18th century. Which of these was one of the original 13 colonies?

The 13 original colonies were all located along the Atlantic Coast. They were Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.

European settlements in North America changed drastically over time. Of the original 13 colonies, which was founded first?

Virginia colony was the first British colony founded in North America. It was founded in 1607 by John Smith and other colonists. It was named for Queen Elizabeth I who was known as the "Virgin Queen."

True or False: Georgia was the last colony to be founded?

Georgia was founded in 1733 by former English General James Oglethorpe and about a hundred other colonists. It was named for the King George II and was the last of the original 13 colonies.

The original 13 colonies are generally grouped into three distinct groups. These are the Southern Colonies, the Middle Colonies, and the ________ Colonies.

The original thirteen colonies stretched along the Atlantic Coast of what would later become the United States of America. They are often split into three geographical groups.

The New England colonies were famous for their harsh winters and Puritan roots. Which of these colonies was not considered a New England Colony?

Pennsylvania was considered a Middle Colony due to its placement. The other Middle Colonies were New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. In their early days, they were dominated by mostly Dutch and German colonists.

Most of the colonies were diverse for their time when it came to faith, however, not all of them were at the start. Which region was dominated by the Puritans?

The New England Colonies were dominated by the Puritans, and there was no religious freedom there. This was different in the Middle and Southern Colonies, where there was mix of religious practices.

Agriculture was a huge source of wealth in the colonies. In which region were plantations common?

The Southern colonies were the warmest of the 13 colonies, which made them ideal for growing numerous crops that couldn't survive in difficult northern soil. They developed large plantations where things like tobacco, rice and sugar cane were grown.

While the warmer climate of the Southern Colonies gave them easier winters and more crops than their neighbors farther north, what downside did it bring?

Back in the old days, winter would often come and freeze out some of the many diseases that were constantly floating around. There was little knowledge of public health or medicine and no vaccinations back then, which made illness run rampant.

The New World attracted all kinds of people and groups for different reasons. What brought the Puritans to the New World?

The Puritans who came to the New World on the Mayflower were considered religious extremists in Europe. While they came to the Americas to escape religious persecution, they set up their own forms of it once they arrived.

Only one New England Colony favored religious and political freedom. It was one of the most liberal colonies. Can you name it?

Unlike the other New England colonies, which were founded by Puritans, Rhode Island was founded on the principle of complete religious tolerance by Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and other Puritan dissenters.

The Salem Witch Trials were a bloody period of religious hysteria in American history. Where did they occur?

The Salem Witch Trials occurred in 1692 in the Puritan New England colony of Massachusetts Bay. It resulted in over 100 arrests and over a dozen executions, including one old man being tortured to death by being crushed under heavy stones.

Many colonies were founded on the principle of religious tolerance or freedom. Most of the people in the colonies belonged to which faiths?

Due to the majority of the people in the 13 colonies being from Europe, religious diversity was largely people of different Christian denominations such as Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Quaker, and Baptist.

Though it is not often talked about, there was a small group of people of which faith in the colonies?

One of the first people to arrive in the New World was Elias Legarde, a Sephardic Jew who arrived with early settlers at Jamestown, where English colonization began. By the end of the colonial era, it is estimated that there were more than 1,000 Jewish people living in the Americas.

Many colonists died during the Starving Time in the Virginia colonies. What caused these deaths?

Many of the colonists were not prepared to farm and live off the land in a foreign place. They lived off imported supplies, which were not as reliable as they needed. This led to a period known as The Starving Time, which lasted from 1609 to 1610.

Life was hard for early colonists. It involved a lot of work and almost no luxury. What kinds of clothing did the Puritans usually wear?

The Puritans opposed sexuality, sensuality, pleasure and excess religiously. As such, their clothing was very modest, utilitarian, and plain. Their clothes were also made of heavy fabrics due to the winter weather.

How do many historian's describe England's first try at establishing a North American Colony?

England actually didn't successfully create permanent settlements in North America at first. In the late 16th century, they tried and failed to settle the Roanoke colony in what would later become North Carolina several times.

By the end of the colonial era, about how large was the population of the 13 colonies?

Over the Colonial Era, many people came to the New World lured by the promise of wealth, and many were forcibly brought to the colonies as slaves. It is estimated that by the time of the American Revolution, there were roughly 2,500,000 people living there.

What did the English Government promise many Englishmen to lure them to settle Jamestown?

In 1607, the English tempted settlers to go to Virginia with the promise of gold and riches. Unfortunately, no gold was ever found in Virginia, and 90% of the men sent died within a few years of arriving.

A European explorer bought the island of Manhattan from Native Tribes. About how much did he pay for it?

Walloon explorer Peter Minuit bought the Island of Manhattan in what would become New York City from the Lenape people for 60 guilders. This is estimated to be roughly $1000 in USD, today.

Before New York was called New York, what was it called?

In 1626, the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam when they bought the Island of Manhattan from the Lenape. The British conquered it in 1664 and renamed it New York.

The area that came to be called Delaware had several colonial occupiers over its history. Who were they?

Over its history, Delaware was home to a Dutch colony, a Swedish colony that became a Dutch colony, a Dutch colony that became a British colony, and a British colony that became an American state.

The famous Quaker William Penn founded which of these colonies?

In 1681, King Charles II gave the land that would become Pennsylvania to William Penn due to a debt he owed to his father. The name Pennsylvania can be roughly understood to translate to "Penn's woods."

Eventually, the US would spread from coast to coast. In the days of the 13 colonies, which was the southernmost colony?

Georgia was the southernmost of the original colonies. It was founded to act as a buffer to prevent Spanish rule from expanding from where it was in Florida. This is why, today, Florida and Georgia share a border.

Which colony was founded specifically to be a safe place for Catholics to live and worship?

In Europe, tensions between Protestants and Catholics had existed for centuries. In 1633, George and Cecil Calvert founded Maryland with the intention of having it be a safe haven for Catholics.

Can you name the province that was a single territory before it split in two?

Carolina was created as one province in the year 1663. However, Carolina split into two parts in the year 1712 and has remained that way ever since. Their split was peaceful and due to the differences that had developed in each location.

Who had colonies in the Americas long before the British?

Long before the English made their first successful settlement at Jamestown, the Spanish had conquered most of South America, the Caribbean, and the North American South and Southwest. From the 15th-19th centuries, Spain dominated the New World.

Can you name the early failed English settlement that famously disappeared without a trace?

The Roanoke Colony was an early failed attempt of the English to colonize the New World. In 1585, colonists came to settle Roanoke Island, which is located in North Carolina. Its inhabitants mysteriously vanished, leaving the word "CROATOAN" carved into a tree behind them.

What percentage of early colonists is it estimated did not survive their first winters abroad?

Life was very hard for early colonists who often had false ideas of what challenges and opportunities the New World would present and were not prepared for it. It is estimated that over half of the colonists who came to Jamestown and Plymouth died during their first winter there.

Even though many colonists came with no knowledge of how to work the land, they had to learn fast to survive. Which of these crops was very important to early colonizers?

When the colonists first arrived to the New World, one of their most important early crops was corn. Over time, they began to grow other crops like wheat, rice, beans, oats and squash.

The vast majority of early colonial settlements popped up near which of these?

Throughout human history, most civilizations, cities and settlements begin near a source of water and then spread out from there. Most colonial towns were situated near rivers or the coast.

Colonists brought a number of things over from Europe with them and changed North America forever. Of these things, which did they introduce to the land?

Europeans introduced domesticated animals that could be raised for meat to North America. These included animals like sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens. They also fished and hunted for meat.

Colonial diets were different from our modern diets in many key ways. Which of these did the majority of colonists drink most often?

In Colonial America, milk cows were scarce, and water was often unclean to drink. Colonists mostly drank alcoholic cider made from apples or peaches, beer or tea. That is what the kids drank too.

The rich had silverware and enjoyed a variety of foods, but which of these did many colonists eat with?

Family dinner was very different in those days. People often stood around the table because they did not have enough chairs for everyone, and most often ate with their hands because they did not have cutlery.

Wealthy colonists had access to all sorts of foods that the poor might go their whole lives without tasting. Which foods did richer Americans enjoy in the 1700s?

There was a big divide between the wealthy and poor in Colonial America. While many of the poor did not even have chairs or forks, the wealthy had silverware and fine china and enjoyed many of the foods we do today.

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