Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Miromesnil, 23 July 1783

From Miromesnil

ALS: American Philosophical Society

ce 23 Juillet 1783.

Jai Recu avec bien de la Reconnoissance, Les constitutions des Etats unis de lamérique, que Monsieur Franklin a bien voulu MEnvoier.9 Je le prie de Recevoir mes Remerciements de Cette marque de Son attention. Je lirai avec attention ce Code qui fait une partie tres Interessante du Droit Public du monde, Et qui sera toujours un monument Insigne de La vertu de Monsieur Franklin Et de son amour Pour Sa Patrie.

Je Le prie detre persuadé de la sincerité de touts Les Sentiments quil m’a Inspirés.


M. Franklin ministre Plenipotentiaire des Etats Unis de L’amerique a Paris.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Vergennes granted permission to publish Constitutions des treize Etats-Unis de l’Amérique on July 18 in a letter to Pierres (AAE). BF presented copies to the foreign ministers at Versailles at their weekly assembly the following Tuesday, July 22 (see his letter to Livingston, July 22[–26]), and may have left a copy for Miromesnil that same day.

Constitutions des treize Etat-Unis was advertised for sale to the public in the July 30 issue of the Jour. de Paris. Available from either Pierres or Pissot père et fils, the 540-page octavo volume sold for 4 l.t. 4 s. on regular paper. A limited number in quarto, on papier vélin, were available in sheets for 24 l.t. An extensive review on Aug. 24 praised the wisdom of the legislation, quoting by way of example the preamble to the Pa. constitution, and called attention to the seal of the United States on the title page, which it described as “ingénieusement composé.”

The book of constitutions had a great influence in Europe and went through four printings in France by 1789. Of particular interest were the pronouncements on religious liberty in various American states: Raymond Birn, “Religious Toleration and Freedom of Expression,” in The French Idea of Freedom: the Old Regime and the Declaration of Rights of 1789, ed. Dale Van Kley (Stanford, Calif., 1994), p. 267; Elise Marienstras and Naomi Wulf, “French Translations and Reception of the Declaration of Independence,” Jour. of American History, LXXXV (1999), 1305.

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