Thursday, September 3, 2009

James Otis, Founder, Man of God

The Sons of Liberty was a secret group that was formed before the Revolutionary War. According to Wikipedia:

Prominent leaders included Paul Revere, Thomas Young, Joseph Warren, Benjamin Edes, Alexander McDougall, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Isaac Sears, John Lamb, James Otis, Marinus Willett, John Adams, and his second cousin, Samuel Adams, who was a leader of the New England resistance.

One member listed above, James Otis, was a jurist and had a huge influence on John Adams (according to this entry in Wikipedia), and the revolutionary motto "Taxation without Representation is Tyranny" is usually attributed to him. He did not get to follow his ideals to their logical end, because by the time of the actual war, an injury had left Otis mentally incapacitated.

Otis would be considered one of our Founding Fathers. As such, he is accused by many today of being a member of that group or "atheists and deists" who were not really all that faithful. But consider what Otis said:

Has [government] any solid foundation? Any chief cornerstone?... I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God… The sum of my argument is that civil government is of God.

Would a deist who is a patriot attribute the cornerstone of government to the unchangeable will of God?

Read his quote in context in the Google Book extract of Classics of American Political and Constitutional Thought, page 159

Learn more from the book:

Classics of American Political and Constitutional Thought: Origins Through the Civil War (Volume 1) ,by Scott J. Hammond
Published by Hackett Pub Co, 2007


jason said...

could you site the Otis quote you used above?

History Matters said...


I expanded the end of the post with more details. Hope that helps.