Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/632

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Crisis in Domestic Affairs

209. The Federal Arch Completed (1781)

This brief newspaper item sets forth the completion of the Articles of Confederation by the signature of Maryland on March I, 1781. — For the formation of the Articles, see above, Nos. 189, 205.

MARCH 1 [1781]. — This day will be memorable in the annals of America to the last posterity, for the final ratification in Congress of the articles of confederation and perpetual union between the States. This great event, which will confound our enemies, fortify us against their arts of seduction, and frustrate their plans of division, was announced to the public at twelve o'clock, under the discharge of the artillery on the land and the cannon of the shipping in the Delaware. The bells were rung, and every manifestation of joy shown on this occasion. The Ariel frigate, commanded by the gallant Paul Jones, fired a feu de joie, and was beautifully decorated with a variety of streamers in the day, and ornamented with a brilliant appearance of lights in the night.

At two o'clock in the afternoon his Excellency the president of Congress received the congratulations of the legislative and executive bodies of Pennsylvania, of the civil and military officers, and many of the principal citizens, who partook of a collation provided on this happy occasion. The evening was ushered in by an elegant exhibition of fireworks.

Thus has the union, began by necessity, been indissolubly cemented. Thus America, (like a well-constructed arch, whose parts harmonizing and mutually supporting each other, are the more closely united the greater the pressure upon them,) is growing up in war into greatness and consequence among the nations. But Britain s boasted wealth and grandeur are crumbling to pieces, never to be again united. Her empire of the ocean is dividing among her insulted neighbors ; and if she persists in her present self-destroying system, there will be a time when scarcely a monument of her former glory will remain. The fragments of her empire, and its history, will then be of little other use to mankind, but like a landmark to warn against the shoals and rocks on which her political navigators had shipwrecked that infatuated nation.

Pennsylvania Packet, March 3, 1781 ; reprinted in Frank Moore, Diary of the American Revolution (New York, etc., 1860), II, 390-391.