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Otis also defended the colonists’ rights to have legislatures. He refuted charges that to have subordinate legislatures was treasonous and calculated only as a way of gaining independence from Great Britain. No colonists, claimed Otis, had made that claim; in fact, the colonials were so well versed in the English Constitution that they understood that their local governments were secondary to Parliament and would therefore never want any other government.

Burkina Faso Metro Map Furthermore, the existence of colonial legislatures would actually help Parliament to remain informed of the general needs of the colonials while at the same time allowing the colonies to administer to their local needs and concerns. Otis’s Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved relied on that famous theme of the Revolution, No taxation without representation. His essay went through several quick editions in both England and the colonies. So popular and convincing was its argument that the Massachusetts legislature endorsed it, as did radicals in England. Although Otis may be better known for his attack on the Writs of Assistance, his Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved ranks as one of the most important pre-Revolutionary War documents.

Aaron N. Coleman See also: Otis, James; Revolutionary War. Bibliography Bailyn, Bernard. Ideological Origins of the Country Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967; reprint, 1992. Brennan, Ellen E. “James Otis: Recreant and Patriot.” New England Quarterly 12 (1939): 691725. Colbourn, Trevor. The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the Country Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1965. Tudor, William. The Life of James Otis of Massachusetts. New York: Da Capo, 1970.

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