From Michael Boldin’s Friday email:
Thanks to government-run “education,” few people today know the name James Otis, Jr. – born Feb 5, 1725 – whose 5 hour oration against the Writs of Assistance in 1761 sparked the flames of liberty. This was such an important speech that “American Independence was then & there born.”
As Dave Benner wrote,
A fiery orator and fierce defender of traditional Whig principles, Otis’ role as a colonial agitator was truly pivotal. As America’s first whistleblower, he tirelessly argued against the writs of assistance and published pamphlets highly critical of British tax policy.
Viewing the colonial writs as a blatant violations of privacy rights, Otis believed the crown had desecrated principles held paramount by the British constitutional system, going all the way back to the Magna Carta. He believed strongly in the inalienable rights of all, strongly condemning taxation levied by bodies outside of the direct local assemblies of the people. He also fiercely attacked slavery. “The colonists are by the law of nature free born, as indeed all men are, white or black,” he wrote.
Years later, John Adams – who was just 25 and in the audience at the time of the oration, recalled that “Otis was a flame of fire!” He noted that “American Independence was then & there born…Then and there was the first scene of the first Act of opposition to the Arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the Child Independence was born. In fifteen years i.e. in 1776. he grew up to Manhood, & declared himself free.”
But 1761, and the beginning of the controversy between the Colonies and Great Britain wasn’t Otis’ only contribution to the Revolution, far from it.
With Samuel Adams, he coauthored important documents like the Massachusetts Circular Letter of 1768, where they argued against the notion of a “living, breathing constitution.” And again in the Boston Pamphlet of 1772, where they wrote in favor of natural rights – life, liberty and property – and the natural right to defend them:
“Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”
I covered these – and other important works by Otis on Friday’s episode of Path to Liberty, which you can find here;
At just 14 minutes, it’s packed with important historical info – and if you prefer reading to watching or listening, there are 10 reference links included as well.
In a time where government schools are doing better than ever to hide our true history, here at the TAC we believe it’s more important than ever to share the wisdom of the Founders and Old Revolutionaries.
Nothing helps us roll up our sleeves and do this kind of work every single day of the year more than the financial faith and support of our members. You can join us today for as little as 2 bucks/month right here:
THANK YOU for reading, watching, listening – and your support!
Concordia res parvae crescunt
(small things grow great by concord)
Michael Boldin, TAC