Abigail Adams

after Mather Brown (1761—1831)

Portrait by unknown artist after a 1785 painting by Brown.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on gray (now oxidized) laid paper. 9 9/16 x 7 7/16 in. • 24.3 x 18.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; 73.4 x 59.7 cm (28 7/8 x 23 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

by Benjamin Blythe (b. 1746; active until 1787)

Pastel on paper; 57 cm x 44.3 cm. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA.

At the end of March [1783] Franklin applied to [French Foreign Secretary] Vergennes for permission to publish a complete translation of the United States constitutions in French, the only language in which they could be widely read. He was eager to correct Europe’s misapprehensions about the new nation; he knew as well that he was offering up an advertisement for American trade and immigration.... Copies went out over the summer to the entire diplomatic corps and, in extravagantly bound editions, to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The most influential of Franklin’s European publications the constitutions were universally well received.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)