Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Discussion Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Flowers left for James Otis
James Otis, Jr.: Sir, you will be remembered as a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts, a member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, and an early advocate of the Patriot views against British policy that led to the American Revolution. Your catchphrase "Taxation without representation is tyranny" became the basic Patriot position. John Adams promoted you as a major player in the coming of the Revolution. Adams said, "I have been young and now I am old, and I solemnly say I have never known a man whose love of country was more ardent or sincere, never one who suffered so much, never one whose service for any 10 years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country as those of Mr. Otis from 1760 to 1770." Adams claimed that "the child independence was then and there born,[for] every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance." In fact, his challenge to the authority of Parliament made a strong impression on John Adams, who was present, and thereby eventually contributed to the American Revolution. In a pamphlet published three years later, in 1765, you expanded your argument that the general writs violated the British constitution harkening back to the Magna Carta. Much enhanced by John Adams on several occasions, the text of his 1761 speech was first printed in 1773 and in longer forms in 1819 and 1823.John Adams has several examples in his diary of your mental illness well before 1769. By the end of the decade, your public life largely came to an end. Unique in your era, you favored extending the basic natural law freedoms of life, liberty and property to African Americans. You asserted that blacks had inalienable rights. The idea of racial equality also permeates Otis's Rights of the British Colonies (1764). It was on this day in 1783 after 230 years, you had died suddenly at the age of 58 when, as you stood in the doorway of a friend's house and was struck by lightning. You were reported to have said to your sister, Mercy Otis Warren, "My dear sister, I hope, when God Almighty in his righteous providence shall take me out of time into eternity that it will be by a flash of lightning" may you rest in peace!
 Added: May. 23, 2013

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service