England had 13 colonies along the east coast of the continent, where colonists established self-government and, in some, religious toleration. Over time, agriculture and trade increased in the colonies, which prospered and grew in population. But while the colonies did enjoy much self-government, the British government controlled trade. After Britain defeated France in the French and Indian War, the government passed several new laws aimed at raising money from the colonists. Many colonists protested these actions, and tension between Britain and the colonists rose. War broke out, and in 1776, colonial leaders declared independence from Britain. The fight took many years, but eventually the British signed a treaty recognizing the independence of the United States. A new nation was born.