North American Scholar

OTIS, James, Jr.

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  • Date of Birth: 1725-02-05
  • Born City: West Barnstable
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: James Otis, a lawyer, & Mary Allyne 0.
  • Date of Death: 1783-05-23
  • Death City: Andover
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Death Notes: stuck by lightning
  • Married: Ruth Cunningham, spring 1755.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1743.

  • Professional Experience:

    Admitted to Plymouth (MA) bar, 1748; practiced law, Boston, 1750; King's attorney, 1754; King's adv. gen. of vice admiralty ct., Boston; active member, Sons of Liberty, member Mass. Gen. Ct., 1761-9, 1771; speaker, 1766.

  • Publications:

    The Rudiments of Latin Prosody . . . and the Principles of Harmony in Poetic and Prosaic Composition (Boston, 1760); A Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives (Boston, 1762); The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved (Boston, 1764); Considerations on Behalf of the Colonists, in a Letter to a Noble Lord (London, 1765); A Vindication of the British Colonies: Brief Remarks on the Defense of the Halifax Libel on the British-American Colonies (Boston, 1765); Boston: An Appeal to the World (Boston, 1769).

  • Notes:

    A fiery patriot orator of the Revolutionary generation, pamphleteer,and legal scholar, James Otis developed the classical theory of national law in modern clothes. His contributions to classical scholarship were limited to his interest in prosody. Besides his treatise on Latin meter, he wrote another on Greek prosody, but it was never published because no American press owned a Greek typeface. He was the great-granduncle of Brooks Otis.

  • Sources:

    Samuel Eliot Morison, DAB 14:101-5; NatCAB 1:17-18; WhAmHS 460.

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold