be issued by the English Court of Exchequer; a colo-
nial law devolves the power of that court on the Colonial Superior Court; and a statute of William the Third extends to the revenue officers in America
like powers, and a right to ‘like assistance,’ as in England
To refuse the writ is, then, to deny that ‘the parliament of Great Britain is the sovereign legislator of the British
, who first rose in reply, reasoned mildly, wisely, and with learning, showing that the rule of the English
courts was in this case not applicable to America
But James Otis
, a native of Barnstable
, whose irritable nature was rocked by the stormy impulses of his fitful passions, disdaining fees or rewards, stood up amidst the crowd, the champion of the colonies and the prophet of their greatness.
‘I am determined,’ such were his words, ‘to sacrifice estate, ease, health, applause, and even life, to the sacred calls of my country,’ ‘in opposition to a kind of power, the exercise of which cost one king of England
his head and another his throne.’
He pointed out the nature of writs of assistance; that they were ‘universal, being directed to all officers and subjects’ throughout the colony, and compelling the whole government and people to render aid in enforcing the revenue laws for the plantations; that they were perpetual, no method existing by which they could be returned or accounted for; that they gave even to the menial servants employed in the customs, on bare suspicion, without oath, without inquiry, perhaps from malice or revenge, authority to violate the sanctity of a man's own house, in which the laws should be as the impregnable battlements of his castle.
‘These writs,’ he exclaimed,