James Otis: A Very Important Man
James Otis was a very important man in the American Revolution. He organized the Stamp Act Congress which drafted a petition to Parliament. Also being one of the most important people in the Sons of Liberty, he was very influential to our history.
James Otis was born on February 5, 1725 in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. His father was Colonel James Otis Senior, who was Speaker of the Massachusetts House and head of the popular party. James Otis' family had been in the New World, in fact, the younger James was the fifth generation in the Americas.
James Otis "graduated" from Harvard, where he studied prose and Greek poetry, in 1743. In 1755, he married Ruth Cunningham, the daughter of a trader (and heir to a great fortune). James Otis was, by trade, a lawyer and pamphleteer, politician, and trader.
Originally, James was loyal to the king but also desiring colonial representation in Parliament. He was against colonial upheavals and for reforment, not revolution.
Otis was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives after his famous speech. His career in Massachusetts politics was eight years long. During those eight years he wrote four essays which extended his doctrine of natural rights:Vindication of the House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, A Vindication of the British Colonies, and Brief Remarks on the Defense of the Halifax Libel.
Otis and John Robinson, one of his political enemies, engaged in a fight on September 5, 1769. During that fight, James Otis received a large gash on the head which "contributed essentially to his subsequent derangement" (Tudor 365). For the next fourteen years of his life he went through fits of insanity that grieved the city. On May 23, 1783, in Andover, Massachusetts, James Otis was instantly killed by a strike of lightning at age 58.