otis, james

Otis, James (1725-1783) Pamphleteer: Otis graduated from Harvard in 1743, and was admitted to the bar five years later. By 1760, he became the King's advocate general to the vice-admiralty court of Boston. He resigned his position in 1761, in order to represent Boston merchants in their case against Britain's use of writs of assistance to enforce the Sugar Act of 1733. Later that year, he was elected to the General Court, and remained a member until his death. Otis became one of the most influential patriot leaders before the Revolutionary War, writing pamphlets such as Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved (1764). He became a member of the Sons of Liberty, and attended the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. He became more moderate as the 1760's progressed, and he admitted the supremacy of Parliament despite his opposition to British policy. After a customs agent hit him on the head in 1769, he gradually became insane, and was unable to take part in the Revolutionary War effort. Otis was struck by lightning and killed in 1783.