previous next
[415] be issued by the English Court of Exchequer; a colo-
chap. XVIII.} 1761.
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 empire.’

Oxenbridge Thacher, 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,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Barnstable, Mass. (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Oxenbridge Thacher (1)
James Otis (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1761 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: