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At the French Court

In this idealized version of Franklin's appearance at the Court in Versailles on March 20, 1778, King Louis XVI avowed the treaty of alliance between France and the United States by formally receiving the American commissioners. Franklin played the part of the rustic sage, as he shrewdly calculated the sophisticated courtiers would want to see him—wigless, bespectacled, and donning his "Quaker" suit of sober brown. He appeared again at the French court one year later as the U.S. Minister to France.

Anton Hohenstein (ca. 1823–?). Franklin's Reception at the Court of France, 1778. Philadelphia: John Smith, n.d. Hand-colored lithograph. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress (14) LC-DIG-pga-01591

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Negotiating the Treaty of Paris

Benjamin Franklin was one of the American Commissioners in France who negotiated the Treaty of Paris with Great Britain ending the American Revolutionary War and securing the United States ownership of a vast territory between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River. The Declaration of the Cessation of Arms followed the Preliminary Treaty of Peace, which appears in Franklin's copy book in French.

Declaration of the Cessation of Arms and Treaty of Paris (in French), 1783. Page 2. Manuscript copy book. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (20)

Read the transcript

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Constitutions of the Thirteen States of America

Several weeks before the Treaty of Paris, Franklin arranged for the translation and publication of the thirteen state constitutions along with other founding documents and treaties of commerce and alliance. Believing the publication would be influential in supporting recognition of the new country by European powers, he had sumptuously bound copies presented to the French king and queen and all the French foreign ministers. The Great Seal of the United States, approved by Congress in June 1782, made its first printed appearance here. This copy is personally inscribed by Franklin to the translator.

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Benjamin Franklin Parodied

This British cartoon appeared in London early in 1783 just after the preliminary treaty of peace ending the American Revolution became known in Great Britain. Allegorical figures of Britain and America support a pole crowned with a liberty cap. Benjamin Franklin leads a chorus that includes the Whig ministers Charles James Fox and Lord Shelburne, who made peace with the United States. The American traitor Benedict Arnold appears as a serpent, with a noose over his head.

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