David Hartley (1732-1813) was a statesman and inventor, and a friend of Benjamin Franklin by about 1759. He was a Member of Parliament from Hull(1744-1780 and 1782-1784), and was an ardent opponent of the war with America and of the slave trade. Hartley accused Great Britain of tyranny over the colonies and voiced his sympathy for the American cause in his "Letters on the American War', published in London in 1778 and 1779. His long friendship with Franklin and his liberal views towards American independence made him the perfect candidate to negotiate the final articles of peace. On September 3, 1783, he signed the Treaty of Paris on behalf of Great Britain, formally bringing the Revolution to its final conclusion.
The mezzotint portrait was published in 1784 to disseminate his image as the negotiator and signer of the Treaty of Paris. The inkwell on the table sits atop a book and next to a scroll inscribed "Definitive Treaty with the United States of America." Hartley's spectacles and fur-lined coat suggest his affinity with Franklin, and the urns on the back of his chair evoke American republican symbolism. Far from shying from his role, in this portrait Hartley proudly claims his place in Anglo-American history.