York Town Square

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Articles of Confederation don’t get no respect

A wire service story on Benjamin Franklin in the York Sunday News included a point of view that justifiably drew the ire of a student of York County history… .
Luther B. Sowers took exception with the story from Jan. 22 indicating that Franklin signed four seminal American documents — The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris establishing peace with Britain (1783) and The Constitution (1787)… .

In a letter to the editor, he pointed to part of my book, “Nine Months in York Town,” that says Connecticut’s Roger Sherman was the only person to sign America’s foundational documents: Association of 1774, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.”
The major point here is that the Articles of Confederation should be included on any short list of documents establishing America.
Despite its flaws, it was America’s first framework of government, tying together the 13 colonies from 1777 until the U.S. Constitution came into play about 10 years later. Continental Congress adopted the Articles in York, and the states finally ratified the document in 1781. Some scholars contend the document essentially was in effect in the years between its adoption and its ratification. Further, the Articles proved to France that the Colonies could work together. That plus the Continental Army’s triumph in the Battle of Saratoga helped make France an American ally.
Sowers’ sensitivity to the omission of the Articles from the newspaper’s published list is well placed. The county is fortunate to have Sowers’s loud, clear voice to decry the absence of the Articles on any list of important American documents.