Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved
Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved 1
James Otis (1725-1783)
Otis rose to prominence in 1761, after he gave a courtroom speech opposing the Writs of Assistance—blanket warrants issued by the British for searching suspect property. He edited that speech into this essay three years later, after the passage of the Sugar Act. Its arguments contain the seed of the American Revolution—an appeal to natural rights applied against particular abuses of political power. Struck by lightning in 1783, Otis did not live beyond the Revolution. But John Adams remarked that he had never known a man "whose service for any ten years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country as those ...