On March 1, 1781, three and a half years after they were endorsed by the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation were officially ratified when the last state, Maryland, gave its approval. The unseemly delay could be explained by the conspicuous fact that a war was going on, which inevitably deflected attention from all other business, but the specific reason was that the landless states, like Maryland, refused to ratify until all states with extensive western claims - Virginia most prominently - agreed to cede their claims to Congress. The president of the Continental Congress, Samuel Huntington, declared the creation of a new political entity, called the Confederation Congress, which established "a perpetual Union between the thirteen United States." To mark the occasion, thirteen cannons were fired on the hill overlooking the Philadelphia harbor, and that salvo was answered by thirteen cannons from the frigate John Paul Jones. In the evening "a grand exhibition of fireworks was staged at the State House, and all the Vessels in the Harbor were decorated and illuminated."
- From The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis