Why was James Otis important to the American Revolution?


Quick Answer

According to the Biography Channel, James Otis was important to the American Revolution because he helped create and draft the list of grievances of the colonists and sent them to the government in England. He is credited as saying, "Taxation without representation is tyranny." His support of rights for the colonists is considered one of the earliest acts that led to the War of Independence.

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Full Answer

James Otis was a lawyer and originally a loyalist to the British crown. However, he changed sides in 1761 when he disagreed with the writs of assistance, a law that allowed British officers to enter the homes of colonists at anytime to look for illegal goods. He argued for the colonists to representatives of the British crown in a fiery and passionate speech that made him very popular, despite the fact that he lost the case.

James Otis was then elected to the Massachusetts General Court and continued to support the colonists by drafting documents with passionate arguments against more and more unfair laws passed by the British. He gained political enemies among the loyalists and was attacked and beaten in 1769 by one of the men he criticized in his writings, customs commissioner John Robinson. Otis suffered a serious head injury and retreated from public life after the incident.

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