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James Otis
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    (February 5, 1725-May 23, 1783)
    Born in Barnstable, Massachusetts
    Massachusetts lawyer, legislator and pamphleteer
    Challenged the legality of 'writs of assistance' that allowed British authorities to enter any colonist's home without advance notice or probable cause
    Wrote 'The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved' (1764) and 'Considerations on Behalf of the Colonists' (1765)
    Member of the Stamp Act Congress (1765)
    Popularized the slogan 'Taxation with representation is tyranny'
    Although the phrase 'Taxation with representation is tyranny' is often attributed to him, it had been used a generation earlier in Ireland.
    He supported American independence while his wife and oldest daughter were Loyalists, which must have made for some awkward family dinners.
    His behavior became increasingly erratic, with some modern doctors speculating that he was schizophrenic or manic-depressive.
    He told friends that if he had to die, he would just as soon die from being struck by lightning -- a wish that was fulfilled when he was hit by a bolt while standing in the doorway of a friend's house.
    John Adams wrote, 'I solemnly say I have never known a man whose love of country was more ardent or sincere.'
    His son died at age 18.
    He was struck over the head with a cudgel by a British tax collector (1769).
    Unlike most people of his day, he favored extending the basic freedoms of life, liberty and property to blacks.

Credit: C. Fishel

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