240th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America – The Constitutions

Un des 200 exemplaires originaux de la 1ère édition des Constitutions des 13 Etats-Unis d'Amérique - 1783 (Bibliothèque de Blois)

Three documents integral in the foundation of the United States were on display in the Ambassador’s residence thanks to the kind help of the Blois-Agglopolys Library and the agglomerate community of Blois. It contains the original and rare Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America (Philadelphia, 1781) ; the first French edition of the Constitutions des treize Etats-Unis de l’Amérique (Philadelphia and Paris, 1783); and a collection of four pieces from Benjamin Franklin’s Bagatelles (Private press of B. Franklin, Passy, 1784).

The constitutions of the several independent states of AmericaThe constitutions of the several independent states of America
Philadelphia : Francis Bailey, 1781
F 11002.

Through a resolution adopted on December 29, 1780, Congress ordered that 200 copies of the Constitution of each newly independent state be printed with the Declaration of Independence in face of England and the new treaties of commerce and alliance signed between the United States and France. Pictured is one of these 200 original copies, only three of which have been preserved in France.



Constitutions des treize Etats-Unis de l’AmériqueConstitutions des treize Etats-Unis de l’Amérique,
Paris : Ph. D. Pierres, Pissot, 1783
O 3146..

The text of the United States Constitution was quickly translated into French by the Duke of Rochefoucauld d’Anville, who was an ardent supporter of the American cause within Paris and a personal friend of Benjamin Franklin. The present copy was printed on large parchment from the Révillon factory.

Avis à ceux qui voudraient s’en aller en Amérique, Remarques sur la politesse des sauvages de l’Amérique septentrionaleBenjamin FRANKLIN

Avis à ceux qui voudraient s’en aller en Amérique, Remarques sur la politesse des sauvages de l’Amérique septentrionale, 1784
[S.l, s.n., s.d.]
F 4163.

“Bagatelles – Avis à ceux qui voudraient s’en aller en Amérique” de Benjamin Franklin – 1784 (Bibliothèque de Blois)
In these two short texts, joined under the title Bagatelles, Franklin expresses several key sentiments on the United States and the Native Americans. They were not less polite nor less educated than their occidental counterparts, their mannerisms and education were merely different. As for the United States, he said, to those who wished to travel to and settle there, one must understand that they are not necessarily waiting for new arrivals. There are no public offices, or administrative posts or military posts, with the army having been dissolved at the end of the war; industry is also not protected by the state as in Europe by privileges or exclusive rights. To the same token, birth into a certain aristocratic family holds no weight in the new states. Only skill is recognized there. A good farmer or a good artisan could better make an honest living in the United States than in Europe.