1725: Revolution-era 'flame of fire' is born in Barnstable
In a dramatic five-hour speech at the old State House in February 1761, Otis represented pro bono the merchants who challenged the legality of the writs before the Superior Court, a predecessor to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
" ... Every man prompted by revenge, ill humor, or wantonness to inspect the inside of his neighbor's house, may get a writ of assistance," Otis went on to say. "Others will ask it from self-defense; one arbitrary exertion will provoke another, until society be involved in tumult and in blood."
Among those who heard Otis was future president John Adams, who described the Barnstable native as "a flame of fire; with a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities."" A man's house is his castle, and whilst he is quiet, he is well guarded as a prince in his castle." James Otis, 1761.
Adams would later write that "the child independence was then and there born,[for] every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance."
(illustration credit, http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/)