June 21, 1768

James Otis, Jr., Enrages Colonial Governor

Greater Boston

On this day in 1768, James Otis, Jr. gave a characteristically fiery speech to his fellow legislators in Boston. He referred to the British House of Commons as a gathering of "button-makers, horse jockey gamesters, pensioners, pimps, and whore-masters." The colony's royal governor denounced Otis's tirade as the most "insolent. . . treasonable declamation that perhaps was ever delivered." Otis's speech in June 1768 was one of many that attacked Parliament for its efforts to squeeze more revenue from the American colonies. His insistence that "a man's house is his castle" and later that there be "no taxation without representation" remain etched in our collective memory long after his name, and his role in the events leading up to the Revolution, have been forgotten.


Related Moments