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.
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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.
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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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Louis-Alexandre, duc de La Rochefoucauld d'Enville, translator. Constitutions des Treize Etats-Unis de L'Amerique. Paris, Ph.-D. Pierres, 1783. Rare Book & Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (20A)
Robert Sayer and John Bennett. The United States of America with the British Possessions of Canada, Nova Scotia, & of Newfoundland, divided with the French; and the Spanish Territories of Louisiana and Florida According to the Preliminary Articles of Peace Signed at Versailles, [Jan. 20, 1783]. London: Printed for R. Sayer and J. Bennett, 1783. Hand-colored engraved map. Geography & Map Division, Library of Congress (21) [gmd370/g3700/g3700/ar075200]
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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.
Thomas Colley, engraver. A Political Concert; the vocal parts by 1. Miss America, 2. Franklin, 3. F-x, 4. Kepp-ll, 5. Mrs. Britannia, 6. Shelb-n, 7. Dun-i-g, 8. Benidick Rattle Snake. London: W. Richardson, February 18, 1783. Engraving. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress (22) LC-DIG-ppmsca-10082
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