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[FRANKLIN, Benjamin.] Constitutions des Treize États-Unis de L’Amérique. Philadelphia and Paris: [Printed for Franklin by] Ph.-D. Pierres and Pissot, Father and Sons, 1783.
[FRANKLIN, Benjamin.] Constitutions des Treize États-Unis de L’Amérique. Philadelphia and Paris: [Printed for Franklin by] Ph.-D. Pierres and Pissot, Father and Sons, 1783.

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[FRANKLIN, Benjamin.] Constitutions des Treize États-Unis de L’Amérique. Philadelphia and Paris: [Printed for Franklin by] Ph.-D. Pierres and Pissot, Father and Sons, 1783.

4° (244 x 188mm.), large-paper copy (occasional foxing and spotting throughout). Half-title. Title-page with circular woodcut Great Seal of the United States (its first use in a printed book). Marbled endpapers. Contemporary mottled calf, inner and outer dentelles, spine in gilt (corners rubbed), red leather label; shelf label at foot of spine. Provenance: Thomas W. Streeter (bookplate).

FIRST EDITION IN FRENCH OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. The rare large paper edition, one of 100 copies printed. A note on verso of half-title reads: “Cet Exemplaire est tire sur papier-Vélin, de la Frabrique de M. Réveillon, á Courtalin, en Brie.”

Translated by the Duc de la Rochefoucault at Franklin's suggestion, probably incorporating many footnotes by Franklin and printed for Franklin. The collection comprises, besides each of the 13 state constitutions, the Declaration of Independence (pp.419-425, with all Signers named), the Articles of Confederation and treaties with France, the Netherlands and Sweden. Franklin's aims in publishing the edition were expressed in a letter to Thomas Mifflin of 25 December 1783: “The extravagant Misrepresentations of our Political State in foreign Countries, made it appear necessary to give them better Information, which I thought could not be more efectually and authentically done, than by publishing a Translation into French....” The obverse of the Great Seal, designed by Secretary of Congress Charles Thomson, makes its first appearance in a book on this titlepage. Howes C-716; Livingston, Franklin and His Press at Passy, pp.181-188; Sabin 16118; Streeter sale 1II:1035.

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