James Otis Jr.
James Otis Jr.

Celebrity Profile

Name: James Otis Jr.
Occupation: Lawyer
Gender: Male
Birth Day: February 5, 1725
Death Date: May 23, 1783 (age 58)
Age: Aged 58
Birth Place: Barnstable, United States
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

Social Accounts

Height: in centimeters - N/A
Weight: in kg - N/A
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Blood Type N/A
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James Otis Jr.

James Otis Jr. was born on February 5, 1725 in Barnstable, United States (58 years old). James Otis Jr. is a Lawyer, zodiac sign: Aquarius. Find out James Otis Jr.net worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.


He died from being struck by lightning while waiting outside a friend's doorway.

Does James Otis Jr. Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, James Otis Jr. died on May 23, 1783 (age 58).

Net Worth

Net Worth 2020


Salary 2020

Not known

Before Fame

He graduated from Harvard in 1743 and quickly proceeded to become the top of the Boston legal profession.

Biography Timeline


Otis graduated from Harvard in 1743 and rose to the top of the Boston legal profession. In 1760, he received a prestigious appointment as Advocate General of the Admiralty Court. He promptly resigned, however, when Governor Francis Bernard failed to appoint his father to the promised position of Chief Justice of the province's highest court; the position instead went to Otis's longtime opponent Thomas Hutchinson.

He was banished from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Watertown in 1743, and he suffered from increasingly erratic behavior as the 1760s progressed. He received a gash on the head from the tax collector John Robinson's cudgel at the British Coffee House in 1769. Some attribute Otis's mental illness to this event alone, but John Adams, Thomas Hutchinson, and many others mention his mental illness well before 1769. The blow to the head probably made it worse and, shortly after, he could no longer continue his work. By the end of the decade, Otis's public life largely came to an end, though he was able to do occasional legal practice during times of clarity.


In 1755, Otis married Ruth Cunningham, a merchant's daughter and heiress to a fortune worth £10,000. Their politics were quite different, yet they were attached to each other. Otis later "half-complained that she was a 'High Tory,'" yet in the same breath declared that "she was a good Wife, and too good for him", in the words of John Adams. The marriage produced children James, Elizabeth, and Mary. Their son James died at age 18. Their daughter Elizabeth was a Loyalist like her mother; she married Captain Brown of the British Army and lived in England for the rest of her life. Their youngest daughter Mary married Benjamin Lincoln, son of the distinguished Continental Army General Benjamin Lincoln.


In 1761, a group of outraged Boston businessmen which included Ezekiel Goldthwait engaged Otis to challenge the legality of "writs of assistance" before the Superior Court, the predecessor of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. These writs enabled the authorities to enter any home with no advance notice, no probable cause, and no reason given.

Otis considered himself a loyal subject to the Crown, yet he argued against the writs of assistance in a nearly five-hour oration before a select audience in the State House in February 1761. His argument failed to win his case, but it galvanized the revolutionary movement. John Adams recollected years later: "Otis was a flame of fire; with a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities." Adams promoted Otis as a major player in the coming of the Revolution. Adams said, "I have been young and now I am old, and I solemnly say I have never known a man whose love of country was more ardent or sincere, never one who suffered so much, never one whose service for any 10 years of his life were so important and essential to the cause of his country as those of Mr. Otis from 1760 to 1770." Adams claimed that "the child independence was then and there born, every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance."


Otis expanded his argument in a pamphlet published in 1765 to state that the general writs violated the British constitution harkening back to the Magna Carta. The text of his 1761 speech was much enhanced by Adams on several occasions; it was first printed in 1773 and in longer forms in 1819 and 1823. According to James R. Ferguson, the four tracts that Otis wrote during 1764–65 reveal contradictions and even intellectual confusion. Otis was the first leader of the period to develop distinctive American theories of constitutionalism and representation, but he relied on traditional views of Parliamentary authority. He refused to follow the logical direction of his natural law theory by drawing back from radicalism, according to Ferguson, who feels that Otis appears inconsistent. Samuelson, on the other hand, argues that Otis should be seen as a practical political thinker rather than a theorist, and that explains why his positions changed as he adjusted to altered political realities and exposed the constitutional dilemmas of colonial parliamentary representation and the relationship between Great Britain and the North American colonies.


Otis did not identify himself as a revolutionary; his peers, too, generally viewed him as more cautious than the incendiary Samuel Adams. Otis at times counseled against the mob violence of the radicals and argued against Adams's proposal for a convention of all the colonies resembling that of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Yet, on other occasions, Otis exceeded Adams in rousing passions and exhorting people to action. He even called his compatriots to arms at a town meeting on September 12, 1768, according to some accounts.


The decline in Otis's mental health was noted by friends and foes alike. In February 1771, John Adams wrote that Otis was "raving mad, raving against father, wife, brother, sister, friend." Thomas Hutchinson wrote to Governor Bernard in December 1771 that "Otis was carried off today in a postchaise, bound hand and foot. He has been as good as his word—set the Province in a flame and perished in the attempt." Otis spent the remainder of his life battling mental illness while living with friends and family in the Massachusetts countryside. Massachusetts Governor John Hancock held a dinner in his honor in 1783, but the event was too much for Otis's fragile mental state and he returned to the countryside.


Near the end of his life, Otis burned the majority of his papers without explanation. Historians and biographers have access to his published papers, but this act prevented deeper insights into his life and thoughts that are available for other historical figures. On May 23, 1783, Otis was killed by a bolt of lightning while watching a thunderstorm from the doorway of a friend's home.

Family Life

James's sister was America's first female playwright, Mercy Otis Warren .

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, James Otis Jr. is 297 years, 6 months and 3 days old. James Otis Jr. will celebrate 298th birthday on a Sunday 5th of February 2023. Below we countdown to James Otis Jr. upcoming birthday.


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