[July ? 1783]1

To the CITIZENS of Philadelphia and its Liberties.

An address from some of the citizens of Philadelphia, to the United States in Congress, contains a number of assertions so contrary to what I have
understood to be fact, that I cannot refrain from animadverting upon it; more especially as the evident tendency of the misrepresentation it
contains is to persuade you, that you have done your duty in the union in a pre-eminent and distinguished manner. This is a flattering
persuasion, more likely therefore to be admitted without any strict examination of the facts on which it is founded; and the conclusion, I
am afraid, will be a relaxation of your exertions, from a false conception that you have already done comparatively too much.

This can redound neither to your honor, nor to that of the union. I trust therefore that I shall consult both, in holding out to you a true state
of your conduct, in contradiction to the flattering but false one which is contained in the address. I trust too that your candour and good
sense will prefer salutary admonition to delusive adulation. Deception is always dangerous, but most so when it affects the honor and
interests of the people.

The address says, the citizens of Philadelphia have been “free of their fortunes. The monthly return of taxes from Pennsylvania, of which the
city and liberties form so great a part, has not been exceeded by any, and we wish they had been proportionably equalled by every State in the
union. To which we may add the establishment of the bank, which has extended its usefulness to the public service, and acquired a
permanency as effectual, and in some instances superior to those of older nations.”

That you may judge how free you have been of your fortunes, and what proportion your contributions have borne to your means, it will be
necessary to place before you those contributions, and those means. And as you have appealed to the monthly returns of taxes, to those returns,
which are compleat for 1782, I shall appeal.

The requisition from you, for that year, was 1,012,868 Dol.

The whole of your payments in the same was 107,923 or 1-10th

The requisition from the State of Rhode-Island, for the same year, was 179,041

The payments of that State were 37,642 or 1-5th

Of the exact truth of this statement you may be informed at the Office of Finance, or at the Treasury. As both these were more immediately
accessible to you, than to any other citizens of the United States, it is somewhat surprizing that you should have held up to the world a
boast, that your contributions had been exceeded by none – when it was so easily refutable, by an appeal to the records within your reach, and
even under your eyes. From them it appears, that even the State of Rhode-Island, the abused and reprobated State of Rhode-Island, that
State against which this very decent reflection in your address, “We do not amuse the world with calling on Congress to do justice to the army,
and to the creditors of America, and at the same time withhold the means by which that justice is to be fulfilled,” was principally
intended, has doubled the proportion of your payments, having furnished one-fifth of her quotas; and your State (of which the city and its
liberties form so great apart) but one-tenth.

Many of the other States, as Georgia, the two Carolina’s, Virginia, New-Jersey, and New-York, have contributed so largely in specific supplies
for the army, that, I am persuaded, if those were added to their money-payments, your proportion of contribution would be found among
the lowest in the union.

But taking it upon the contribution more favourable to your pretentions, that of money, what foundation does it furnish for your vain-glorious
boasting, that you have been free of your fortunes for the public service – or how does it warrant your arrogating superior merit to
yourselves, by vilifying the rest of the union? Is the paying one hundred thousand dollars, when one million was required for the public
service, being “free of your fortunes?” Is paying a little more in money, and much less in specifics, than most of the other States, a
just ground for pluming yourselves at their expence? Is the State that furnishes subsistence for the soldier, less meritorious than that which
supplies money to purchase the subsistence? Or, does the profit accruing to individuals, through whose hands the money must pass to be
converted into subsistence, stamp a preference on pecuniary to those of specific contributions?

So much for your contributions, which, compared either with what was required of you, or with the effectual supplies of other States,
furnish certainly no real matter for claims of pre eminence, or public boasting.

But infinitely less will the foundation for these claims appear, when we measure your contributions with your means, compared with those of
other States in the union. And I am sure you must accede to the fairness of this mode of adjusting the merits of a State, since it is
an eternal rule of justice, that to whom much is given, from them much shall be required. The following estimate then will shew the sums that
centered in Philadelphia in one year, from the residence of Congress in that city, which was an advantage enjoyed by no other State, and
consequently an exclusive faculty of contribution.

I have estimated every thing as low as possible, because the lowest estimate will shew you, that you have not contributed in proportion to
your extraordinary means, and much less equivalent to the ordinary and extraordinary means together.

The estimate for one year stands thus:

Drawn to Philadelphia, from the other States, by their contributions to the
United States, Dol. 313,031

Public money in specie put into the bank, 462,505

Clear profit on goods imported and supplied to other

States, whose importations were stopt by the enemy being in them; the prime
cost supposed

650,000, and the profit two prices, 1,625,000

Profit on public bills on France, 148,568

Monies expended in Philadelphia by members of

Congress, their officers, those necessarily attending to do business with
Congress, and their officers, foreign Ministers, &c. 194,642

2,743,746

These are some of your extraordinary means, for it is not possible to form any estimate of them all; and surely from these alone a great deal more
might have been reasonably expected, before you could with any propriety boast of your having been “free of your money.” I am sensible
that the whole of what was drawn from the other States, in their quotas and imported on loan from Europe, though centered in Philadelphia, was
not expended among its citizens, and therefore I am willing to allow any deduction on those sums, which any one better informed than myself
may shew to be reasonable. Truth is my object, and a just estimate of your merits. To detract from these I would not willingly exaggerate a
single dollar.

Nor were the ordinary means of raising your quota less eminently in your favour. To shew this let it be remembered, that for four years your
State had not felt the ravaging hand of an army, or enemy, or an impress: That your militia had not been called, during that period, to
serve out of the State, but the countrymen have been at uninterrupted liberty to cultivate their lands, and the citizens to pursue their
trade: That your commerce flourished, your tradesmen prospered, and your citizens were enriched, beyond any former example in a similar
period of time. The war, which was a burthen and calamity to other States, was to you a golden blessing, fertile of elegance and opulence.

As proof of this, let me remind you, that in one year your imports in goods amounted to one million of money: That, in one year, your flour shipped
to the Havannah brought you upwards of half a million in specie: That your privateers brought in a multitude of most valuable prizes: That
such was the enormous profit you derived from commerce, that you could afford to give as far as ten per cent per month for the use of money:
That in fine we may say, without any exaggeration, that, in point of fortune, your tradesmen had become gentlemen, and your merchants
princes.

Such were your means, and such your advantages, in 1782; compare them with your contributions, and see how amazingly they out-measure them – how
little reason you have to boast, that you have been “free of your fortunes,” or to arrogate pre-eminence in public merit. Superior to
every State in the advantages arising from the residence of Congress – superior to most in the prosperity of your agriculture, your
manufactures, and your commerce – even in monied contributions you was inferior, by one half, to one State, viz. Rhode-Island, and in that of
specifics inferior to almost every State.

But the comparison (odious I confess comparisons are, but you have begun them) in the quotas of troops, will shew you to have been still more
deficient in your duty to the union.

This estimate stands thus:

States. Inhabitants. Quota of troops, 1782.
New-Hampshire, 100,000 697
Massachusetts, 350,000 4326
Rhode-Island, 60,000 467
Connecticut, 200,000 2351
New-York, 200,000 1037
New-Jersey, 120,000 868
Pennsylvania, 300,000 1592
Delaware, 30,000 307
Maryland, 250,000 1604
Virginia, 400,000 949
North Carolina, 200,000 1005

Here you will perceive, that in proportionable contributions of men Massachusetts has almost trebled you. Rhode-Island, Connecticut,
New-Jersey, and Delaware, have nearly doubled your quota. New-Hampshire and Maryland out-number you by one-third. New-York, and North-Carolina,
under all their disadvantages, are equal; and that it is the single State of Virginia only you can pretend to have exceeded. You will
permit us then to wish, in your own words, that Pennsylvania had “proportionably equalled the other States,” in furnishing men to bring
the war to an “happy issue,” and that you had not amused the world, with boasting of your having “made every exertion which principle could
inspire, or fortitude support,” while you were so defective in the most material of all exertions.

But a review of the circumstances of the different States in 1782, will set your delinquency in a more just and strong light. Georgia and
South-Carolina were under the ravaging hand of an enemy. North-Carolina was recovering from the desolation of two armies. Virginia was hardly
emerged from two preceding years of devastation from an enemy, in part of the State, and a constant impress in the rest. Her militia had been
drawn from the culture of her fields, to fight afar off, at Cambden, Guilford, King’s Mountain, and the Cowpens. She had been exhausted,
both of men, money and provisions, by almost the whole weight of the southern war in 1780. In the succeeding year a hostile army laid waste
every thing before it. Our own army consumed all that could be seized, where the enemy did not come; her militia was on constant duty; her
shores were continually plundered by the refugee barges; her fields were laid waste, or uncultivated; her commerce was entirely destroyed;
and her paper, the only monied re source she could have, was depreciated to absolute annihilation. So circumstanced, so exhausted by
the burthen and devastation of war in her very bosom; so overwhelmed with accumulated calamities; and so deprived of all resources – it was
not reasonable to expect contributions from her, either in men or money. It must be remembered too, that early in the war that State had
the peculiar misfortune of having her chief commercial city burnt, which gave an irrecoverable blow to her commerce, and the various
resources derivable from that. Next in the list stands Maryland, which was free from the inroads and injuries of war, and exerted herself
accordingly. Delaware did its duty as to men, but was unpardonably deficient in money-contributions.We come now to Pennsylvania, in long
and full possession of internal peace, agriculture, trade and commerce. It seemed among the other States like the land of promise, a land
flowing with milk and honey; her cities enlarging, her inhabitants increasing in wealth, and her fields seeming to laugh and sing. Yet out
of her abundance what did she contribute? – a handful of men, and one-tenth of her quota in money. This, when we appeal to facts, appears
to be the prodigality with which you devoted your lives and fortunes to the support of the union. Continuing our review, we shall find
New-Jersey, New-York and Connecticut, occasionally burthened with the maintenance of the army, or exposed to the depredations of the enemy.
Yet those States did in the whole contribute as largely, in men and money, as the untouched and prosperous State of Pennsylvania.

Rhode-Island had been free from an enemy only since the arrival of the French troops; her capital having been a British post almost three
years; her navigation chiefly destroyed; her manufactures, and the various branches of business depending on her foreign trade, entirely
failing.2 The most fertile parts of the State liable to daily ravages from the enemy, and many of her wealthy
inhabitants retiring, and carrying off their property to other States for shelter, while those who remained were worn out with excessive
military duty on the shores; yet so recently after such unparalleled sufferings, the State of Rhode-Island doubled, in proportion, your
contributions. Massachusetts, though by no means possessed of your advantages, exceeded you more in her quota of men than she was inferior
to you in her supply of money. But there is yet a fact, with regard to filling up her line, which will prove how greatly the exertions of
Massachusetts transcended those of Pennsylvania. The fact is, that the bounties for raising their men amounted to 200 specie dollars a man, so
that this service was an immediate expence to her of near half a million of dollars. This observation applies also with equal force in
favour of Rhode-Island, on the scale of comparative merit. Whoever will examine into the State debt and taxes of Massachusetts and
Pennsylvania, will find that in the former they treble those in the latter; an infallible criterion of which has been most free of her
fortunes, which has made the greatest exertions, has borne and must bear the greatest burthens, and which, though unboasting, deserves most
praise. And if we consider too that the great source of wealth to Massachusetts, the fishery, was entirely stopt by the war, it will
lighten still more the Pennsylvania scale. Permit me, gentlemen, to hope you are convinced, that the exertions of the other States, in
support of the war, have at least been as you wished, proportionably equal to your own. I am happy to have had the means of shewing you your
wishes were fulfilled.

But you assume a merit in the establishment of a bank in your city, and charge that institution as a service rendered by you to the United
States; and yet in truth this establishment was a peculiar benefit to you, procured by the favour of Congress, and the use of the public
money. When you would not fill up the subscription, so as to enable the bank to open agreeable to its charter, four hundred thousand dollars of
the public money was put into the bank, which was to supply the place of the stock, and the bank opened almost two years before the original
subscription was filled up. This deposit of public money was therefore the foundation-stone of your bank, from which you have derived so much
reputation, and such eminent advantages.

And now, gentlemen, give me leave to advise you, when next you are inclined to make a parade of your merits, to be sure that they are real. You
cannot but feel how unbecoming it is to assume merits that do not belong to you – how humiliating to be exposed as vain boasters. When too
you are next inclined to draw comparisons, be pleased to remember they are invidious, if true; if false, odious. Let me exhort you to redeem
your character, by doubling your exertions; and – let your pride pardon what your nature needs, the salutary caution of a friend.

NOTES:

Reprinted from the Providence Gazette, September 6, 1783. This letter appeared under the following heading: “To the Printer of the
Providence Gazette. By giving a Place, in your next Gazette, to the following Strictures on the late Address to Congress, from some of
the Citizens of Philadelphia and its Liberties, you will oblige An Old Customer.”

1 Lee apparently composed this letter as a result of his work on a committee appointed July 23 to consider an address to Congress from more than
870 Philadelphia citizens vindicating Pennsylvania’s support for Congress and the war effort, for which see Richard Peters to Thomas
FitzSimons, July 23, 1783. Congress adopted the committee’s bland and noncommital response to the address on July 28, for which see Elias
Boudinot to Thomas Willing, July 30, and Willing ensured that the address, Congress’ resolve, and Boudinot’s letter were published in
all five Philadelphia newspapers between August 4 and 9. Lee, who harbored animosity toward Pennsylvania and Robert Morris and
strenuously resisted any attempt to return Congress to Philadelphia, undoubtedly felt that a far stronger response was in order. He could
have composed this rebuttal at any time between his appointment to the committee in late July and mid-August, after the Philadelphia
address appeared in the newspapers. Whether he attempted to have his “Strictures” published in Philadelphia is not known nor is it clear
whether he sent the essay directly to John Carter, publisher of the Providence Gazette, or to a New England colleague such as Jonathan
Arnold or James Warren with instructions to solicit publication. It is clear, however, that Lee penned a continuation of the
“Strictures,” probably after Francis Bailey reprinted the original essay from the Providence Gazette in the Freeman’s Journal
(Philadelphia) on October 8, and sent it to Warren for publication, for which see Lee to Warren, October 16, 1783.

2 At this point the printer inserted a double dagger to which he keyed the following note: “In the year 1774 the town of Newport sent to sea
nearly 140 vessels, small and great. In 1782 that town did not send out more than 5 or 6. At the former period, there were in that town
21 distilleries, and 9 spermaceti-works; at the latter, not a single one of either.”