†††††††††††††††† "MERCY TO THE PATRIOT"

†††††††††††† The Ordeal of James Otis and

††††††††††††††† the American Revolution

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††† by

 

†††††††††††††††††††† Charles Deemer

 

 

††††††††††† TIME & P.LACE: 1761-1783, Boston

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††† CAST

††††††††††† Mercy Otis Warren (poet, sister)

†††††††††††††† James Otis (lawyer, House)

††††††††††††† Thomas Hutchinson (Lt. Gov.)

††††††††† Col. Otis (Speaker of House, father)

††††††††††††††††††† Ruth Otis (wife)

††††††††††††† Sam Adams (tax collector)

††††††††††††††††† John Adams (lawyer)

†††††††††† James Warren (House, M's husband)

†††††††††††††† Andrew Oliver (Secretary)

††††††††††† Gov. Francis Bernard (Governor)

†††††††††††††††††††††† The Crowd

†††††††††††††† ††Quartet (songs, poem)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† cdeemer@teleport.com

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (503) 452-8277


 

 

 

SONG 1 (POEM): WARREN

 

"Taxation of America" by Peter St. John

 

WARREN: While I relate my story / Americans give ear; /

Of Britain's fading glory / You presently shall hear; /

I'll give you true relations, / Attend to what I say /

Concerning the taxation / Of North Ameri-kay

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: This is the story of my brother, James

Otis. Among those who have been forgotten, there is no

more important figure in the American Revolution.

 

WARREN: The cruel lords of Britain / Who glory in their

shame, / The project they have hit on / They joyfully

proclaim; / Tis what they're striving after / Our right

to take away / And rob us of our charter / In North

Ameri-kay

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: I'm Mercy Otis Warren, a poet, a

playwright -- the first American playwright, historians

call me now. I had hoped to be the editor of my brother's

collected writings, but history had other plans for

Jemmy and his papers never got published. This is why

you know so little about him today. The story of how

this came to be begins in a courtroom in Boston, on a

blustery day in November, 1761. Thomas Hutchinson, Lt.

Governor of the Province of Massachusetts, presided over

an extraordinary case.

 

SCENE 1: HUTCHINSON, OTIS

 

HUTCHINSON: The Court now will hear James Otis...Junior.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: After the death of King George II,

legal papers had to be replaced with new ones bearing

the seal of King George III. The Writs of Assistance

were documents that gave customs officials the authority

to search for contraband. When the new Writs arrived,

however, more than an official seal had been changed.

The wording of these new documents had become much

broader and more general in scope. Specific searches for

specific contraband no longer had to be specified. The

Writs upset my brother so much that he resigned as

King's Advocate because in that position he would have

to defend them.

 

HUTCHINSON: Or does Otis, Junior, need more time?


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2.

 

 

OTIS: I'm ready, your honor ... I would like to remind

the Court that my duty, as King's Advocate, was to

defend these Writs of Assistance, and that I have

resigned my position with this Court in order to argue

in behalf of the inhabitants of Boston against them. I

have accepted no fee in this case. Nor do I argue for

personal gain or from personal bias. I argue as I do

because I oppose, and shall oppose to my dying day, all

such instruments of slavery and villainy as this Writ of

Assistance is. It appears to me to be the worst

instrument of arbitrary power ever found in an English

law book. This Writ is a general power that places the

liberty of every man, every subject in the King's

dominions, in the hands of every petty officer. A person

with this Writ may enter, in broad daylight, all houses

and shops and buildings at will, and command all to

assist him.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: The case was well argued on both

sides, but Hutchinson decided to confer with England

before making a decision. After court was adjourned,

Jemmy was approached by a young admirer, John Adams.

 

SCENE 2: JOHN ADAMS, OTIS

 

JOHN ADAMS: Your argument was very moviing, sir.

 

OTIS: But perhaps not logical enough to convince Mr.

Hutchinson. He has to ask England what to do.

 

JOHN ADAMS: I think you won, sir.

 

OTIS: And I think a delay is as good as defeat.

 

JOHN ADAMS: I planned to take notes but was so captured

by your eloquence I took no notes at all.

 

OTIS: Are you a lawyer?

 

JOHN ADAMS: Just beginning, sir.

 

OTIS: If you let yourself be so distracted by eloquence,

Mr. Adams, that you neglect a cold look at the logic of

a plea, you'll find yourself swept along by every

ignorant honeymouth in the Province.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Our father, Colonel James Otis, Sr.,

was the Speaker of the House and the leading candidate

to be appointed as the new Chief Justice by Gov. Bernard.

Father did not approve of Jemmy's resignation as King's

Advocate.


†† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††3.

 

 

SCENE 3: OTIS, COL. OTIS

 

OTIS: I cannot defend tyranny.

 

COL. OTIS: That is hardly the intention of--

 

OTIS: The Writ itself, not the intention. It compromises

the liberty of us all. Not even the Speaker of the House

is immune.

 

COL. OTIS: The Speaker of the House merely came forward

to compliment his son on a well-spoken plea.

 

OTIS: Then you've changed your mind about the Writ?

 

COL. OTIS: I do not have to agree with a plea in order to

admire its execution.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: England decided against Jemmy, refusing

to rescind the new Writs of Assistance. At about the

same time, Hutchinson himself, not father, was appointed

Chief Justice. Once again Jemmy was outraged. This time

he resigned his seat in the House. He then wrote a

scathing piece in the Gazette against Hutchinson,

arguing that no man should occupy positions in both the

executive and judicial branches of government. This

article inspired another young Adams who admired my

brother, John's cousin Samuel, the local tax collector.

 

SCENE 4: SAM ADAMS, OTIS

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: Why are you resigning on the eve of victory?

You under-estimate the force of your own pen. The piece

in the Gazette is brilliant.

 

OTIS: What victory was that? I lost the case.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: But you've alerted the people! Anyone using

the Writ now would risk facing a mob ready to snatch it

from his hands.

 

OTIS: None of my colleagues in the House agrees with you.

They condemn my article. And threats of violence,

Samuel, solve nothing.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: When the people are outraged, they speak as

best they can.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Then England levied new taxes on the

colonies, and Hutchinson appointed Andrew Oliver, the

Secretary of the Province, to be the Stamp Master to

administer them.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 4.

 

 

SCENE 5: OLIVER, HUTCHINSON

 

OLIVER: I have too many duties already. Where would I

find time to administer these damned stamps?

 

HUTCHINSON: The Crown has given us a Stamp Master, and I

prefer someone I can trust. I don't like these new taxes

any more than you do, but they are the law.

 

OLIVER: Thomas, please find someone else. I'll be at the

mercy of every drunken ruffian in town.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: The people of Boston did not welcome

these new taxes. Meetings and rallies against them were

held, and usually Jemmy was the leading speaker.

 

SCENE 6: OTIS, CROWD

 

CROWD: No taxes! No taxes! No taxes!

 

OTIS: Gentlemen, we meet here tonight to discuss the

Stamp Act which is soon to reach our shores, the Stamp

Act that will transfer money from our pockets to

Britain's purse. We also are here because as free

citizens we are obliged to be here. The God-given

natural rights which are the foundation of government

are also the foundation of the Constitution of Britain

and of our Colonial Charter. Let us not forget for a

single moment, as we list our grievances here tonight,

that we are not here to criticize the Constitution but

to defend it. We are against the Stamp Act because it is

unconstitutional.

 

CROWD: No taxes! No taxes!

 

OTIS: Is it right that in order to raise revenue a people

be taxed who have no say in the very form those taxes

take? For example, would it be right for the House of

Representatives in the Province of Massachusetts to pass

a measure that taxed the merchants of London, who have

no representation in our House? Of course not. And so

London cannot tax our Boston merchants, who have no

representation in Parliament in London. There can be no

taxation without representation.

 

CROWD: No taxation! No taxes!

 

OTIS: Therefore, the Stamp Act is without effect in

Massachusetts. It does not exist because it cannot exist.

The Constitution does not permit it. Parliament has no

alternative but to repeal it, and immediately. For

taxation without representation is tyranny!

 

CROWD: No taxation without representation! No taxes!


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 5.

 

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: If father was not pleased with Jemmy's

continued rebellion, my sister-in-law Ruth was even more

upset. Jemmy's marriage had shocked us all. All the

Otis' belonged to the Whig Party -- and Ruth was an

aristocratic High Tory, born and bred.

 

SCENE 7: RUTH, OTIS

 

RUTH OTIS: Did you know your loyalty is being questioned?

 

OTIS: Loyalty to whom?

 

RUTH OTIS: To the Crown.

 

OTIS: That's ridiculous. I'mdefending the Constitution!

 

RUTH OTIS: Tonight Secretary Oliver confided to me that

the question of your loyalty has been raised in

Parliament itself. He asked me to talk to you.

 

OTIS: I've never given anyone reason to question my

loyalty.

 

RUTH OTIS: James, I'm becoming an object of pity. You

should hear how people are beginning to talk.

 

OTIS: What do you want from me?

 

RUTH OTIS: I know we have different opinions about many

things, dear, but at least in the past you've given no

one reason to doubt your loyalty to the Crown.

 

OTIS: I am so loyal to the Crown that I defend its

Constitution! What else can I do? Am I to watch the best

document on earth whittled at until it is no more than

the thorn of tyranny?

 

RUTH OTIS: No one understands that this is what you're

doing. Some think the worst, dear. The very worst.

 

SONG 2 - THE QUARTET

 

Loyalist song: "The Rebels" by Captain Smythe (Tune: Black

Joak)

 

Ye brave honest subjects who dare to be loyal,/ And have

stood the brunt of every trial,/ Of hunting shirts and rifle

guns;/ Come listen awhile and Iíll tell you a song;/ Iíll

show you those Yankees are all in the wrong,/ Who, with

blustering look and most awkward gait,/ ĎGainst their lawful

sovereign dare for to prate,/ With their hunting shirts and

rifle guns.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 6.

 

 

Forgetting the mercies of Great Britainís King,/ Who saved

their forefathersí necks from the string,/ With hunting

shirts and rifle guns,/ They renounce all allegiance and

take up their arms,/ Assemble together like hornets in

swarms,/ So dirty their backs, and so wretched their show,/

That carrion-crow follows wherever they go,/ With their

hunting shirts and rifle guns.

 

Come take up your glasses, each true loyal heart,/ And may

every rebel meet his due desert,/ With his hunting shirt and

rifle gun./ May Congress, Conventions, those damned

inquisitions,/ Be fed with hot sulphur from Luciferís

kitchens,/ May commerce and peace again be restored,/ And

Americans own their true sovereign lord./ Then oblivion to

shirts and rifle guns.

 

GOD SAVE THE KING!

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: At Ruth's insistence, Jemmy finally

made an appointment to see Governor Bernard.

 

SCENE 8: HUTCHINSON, BERNARD, OTIS

 

HUTCHINSON: With all due respect, Governor, if the people

refuse to pay these taxes--

 

GOV. BERNARD: Of course they'll pay them.

 

HUTCHINSON: In today's Gazette, Samuel Adams suggested

that the people of Massachusetts follow the example of

Virginia and refuse to pay them.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Adams! I'm going to take care of him, as

well as Otis. Adams has never collected the taxes! He

must be putting the money in his own pockets.

 

HUTCHINSON: I just feel that with so much popular support

against--

 

GOV. BERNARD: I said, Bring me Otis!

 

HUTCHINSON: Yes, sir.

 

A beat.

 

OTIS: Governor ...

 

GOV. BERNARD: What is it you want?

 

OTIS: I am here to pronounce and clarify my loyalty to

the Crown.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 7.

 

 

GOV. BERNARD: Then what is all this constant nitpicking

and finding fault with this administration's running of

things? Do we not get our power from the Constitution

and Charter?

 

OTIS: If I ever seem critical, sir, it is only because I

love the Constitution so much that I abhor anything that

violates it.

 

GOV. BERNARD: I trust you've seen these resolves out of

Virginia, that Samuel Adams has insisted on publishing.

 

OTIS: I've seen them.

 

GOV. BERNARD: And how do they mix with your love of the

Constitution?

 

OTIS: I must confess that I find them, a few portions of

them, close to treason.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Really? I'm surprised to hear you say that.

 

OTIS: One does not respond to an unconstitutional act by

advocating other unconstitutional acts. The proper

course is for the Stamp Act to be repealed.

 

GOV. BERNARD: But if it isn't?

 

OTIS: It must be. It's unconstitutional.

 

GOV. BERNARD: The citizens of Virginia have been asked by

their own legislature to disobey the law, have they not?

And Virginia would declare something close to war on

those of us who accept the law. What then would you have

the citizens of Massachusetts do?

 

OTIS: I advocate the quick repeal of the Stamp Act.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Do we obey it or not?

 

OTIS: It must be repealed.

 

GOV. BERNARD: But obeyed or disobeyed in the meantime?

 

OTIS: Governor, I have never been disloyal to the Crown.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Until repealed, should the Stamp Act be

obeyed or not? Is it the law or not?

 

OTIS: For the moment, it is law. But it is not a

constitutional law and will certainly be repealed.

 

GOV. BERNARD: But at this hour, Otis, it is the law. Am I

correct?


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 8.

 

 

OTIS: Yes.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Good. If you would be willing to publicly

clarify your views, just as you've clarified them now, I

think you would go far in proving your loyalty.

 

OTIS: Are you asking me to publish something on the matter?

 

GOV. BERNARD: A clarification, yes. A vindication,

perhaps, to remove the suspicion of those who do not

realize that you advocate compliance with the law.

 

OTIS: I will write such a vindication.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Excellent. One other thing. I want to

apologize for not appointing your father as Chief

Justice. I was new to the Province and more familiar

with Hutchinson's qualifications than his. However, I do

plan to nominate him for appointment to the Governor's

Council.

 

OTIS: Father will be very pleased.

 

GOV. BERNARD: I also want to reinstate you as King's

Advocate. You're a brilliant lawyer.

 

OTIS: I would have to think about it.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Does a man who is loyal to the Crown refuse

honor by the Crown?

 

OTIS: I am not disloyal.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Then you accept?

 

A beat.

 

OTIS: Yes.

 

GOV. BERNARD: The Crown will be pleased to be represented

by the best lawyer in Boston.

 

SONG 3 - THE QUARTET

 

Loyalist song: "God Save the King" ("My Country Tis of Thee"

uses this tune)

 

God save great George our King,/ Long live our noble King,/

God Save the King!/ Send him victorious,/ Happy and glorius,/

Long to reign over us,/ God Save the King.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 9.

 

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: People were shocked by the publication

of Jemmy's Vindication. He became an object of sudden

ridicule.

 

SONG 4 (POEM) - THE QUARTET, CROWD

 

POEM - Anonymous

 

QUARTET #1: As Jemmy is an envious dog

 

QUARTET #2: And Jemmy is ambitious

 

QUARTET #3: And rage and slander, spite and dirt

 

QUARTET #4: To Jemmy are delicious

 

QUARTET #2: So Jemmy rail'd at upper folks

 

QUARTET #1: While Jemmy's dad was out

 

QUARTET #3: But Jemmy's dad now has a place

 

QUARTET #4: So Jemmy's turn'd about!

 

CROWD: Turnabout Jemmy! Turnabout Jemmy! Turnabout Jemmy!

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: (overlapping) All over Boston,

likenesses of Oliver, the Stamp Master, were being hung

in effigy.

 

SCENE 9: OTIS, SAM ADAMS

 

OTIS: Samuel, did you do this?

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: Unfortunately, no, I can only congratulate

its author on an excellent likeness.

 

OTIS: Cut it down.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: Why have you suddenly forgotten the

Constitution you loved so well?

 

OTIS: I've not forgotten it.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: You're going to argue for the Crown again.

 

OTIS: It's the Crown's Constitution.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: The Governor wants me in jail. You are now

the agent to get me there.

 

OTIS: Your case will be decided by the facts and by the

law.


†††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††10.

 

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: The people will decide the case before then.

They're going to demand Oliver's resignation as Stamp

Master.

 

OTIS: They must be patient. The Stamp Act will be repealed.

 

SAMUEL ADAMS: Maybe so. In the meantime, they'll repeal

it themselves.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: And indeed, Oliver, facing a mob and

fearing for his life, resigned as Stamp Master. The

crowd then gathered outside of Hutchinson's home to

celebrate. But, as will happen with a mob, things soon

got out of hand ...

 

SCENE 10: HUTCHINSON, OLIVER, COL. OTIS, OTIS

 

CROWD: Get Hutchinson! Down with Hutchinson! Get

Hutchinson! Down with Hutchinson!

 

HUTCHINSON: The hellish crew fell upon my house with the

rage of devils! They gutted everything. Destroyed my

furniture and emptied my wine cellar. Robbed my strongbox.

Broke my windows, destroyed my drapes, vandalized my

fine paintings. They would not quit until they had

removed the slate from my roof!

 

OLIVER: They threw the manuscript of your History of

Massachusetts into the streets and trampled upon it. A

neighbor retrieved what he could.

 

HUTCHINSON: Then it's all I have left.

 

OLIVER: They thought we plotted the Stamp Act ourselves.

 

HUTCHINSON: As God is my witness, I have striven as much

as any man to prevent it. I've never thought it fair or

constitutional. But it is the law, and it's my duty to

uphold the law.

 

CROWD: No taxes! No taxes! No taxes!

 

COL. OTIS: James! See what your inflammatory rhetoric

leads to?

 

OTIS: Father, I did not lead the mob!

 

COL. OTIS: You're the one who started stirring up the

people over this.

 

OTIS: I only meant to defend the Constitution!

 

COL. OTIS: Inflammatory rhetoric leads to inflammatory

acts!


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 11.

 

 

CROWD: No taxes! No taxes!

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Boston was in mourning after the

violence. But then news came that the Stamp Act was

repealed. Of course, there was much celebrating in the

streets. For my part, I celebrated by starting to write

a play, a political satire, about the recent events.

 

SCENE 11: RUTH, MERCY

 

RUTH OTIS: I would think you'd let a dead horse rest in

peace.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Dead horses can be the most fun to

ride. And just because England has come to her senses,

doesn't mean that Boston has.

 

RUTH OTIS: The recent election proves that! To put so

many Whigs in office is hardly good sense ...

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: My husband, James Warren, led a Whig

campaign for reform. Following Jemmy's earlier arguments,

he gathered support in the House to prevent Hutchinson

from serving both in the judicial branch as Chief

Justice and in the executive branch on the Governor's

Council. John got the votes to remove the Lt. Gov. from

the Council. But thisvictory, such as it was, was

brief. Once again the Crown levied new taxes on the

colonies, and this time sent a Commissioner from London

to collect them.

 

SCENE 12: HUTCHINSON, BERNARD

 

GOV. BERNARD: The Commissioner tells me that London is

abuzz with talk of Otis.

 

HUTCHINSON: It's Samuel Adams who puts his Mohawks in the

street. Otis is mostly wind.

 

GOV. BERNARD: Then we'll have a tornado on our hands when

he learns I vetoed his nomination as Speaker of the House.

 

HUTCHINSON: It won't be the first Otis tornado. But it's

still Adams who worries me most.

 

GOV. BERNARD: The problem in Boston has always been with

the North End and South End street gangs. They used to

be satisfied with beating each other up on Pope Day.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Once again, my brother was leading the

fight against the new taxes.


†† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††12.

 

 

SCENE 13: OTIS, JOHN ADAMS

 

OTIS: Be it resolved: that for a period of one year,

beginning this Fall of 1767, we will not send for or

import from Great Britain, any kind of goods or

merchandize except the following: salt, coals, fishhooks

and lines, hemp, duck, bar-lead and shot, wool-cards and

card-wire. Only the repeal of the Townshend duties can

in turn repeal this resolution.

 

JOHN ADAMS: Sir, I'm John Adams.

 

OTIS: I remember you.

 

JOHN ADAMS: I don't think we're going far enough.

 

OTIS: How do you mean?

 

JOHN ADAMS: Since we have no representation in Parliament--

 

OTIS: Representation in Parliament should be our next

step. It's the only way to resolve this.

 

JOHN ADAMS: No, I think there's another way. You're the

one who first convinced me of this. "Taxation without

representation is tyranny." We should put the whole

argument on the table: they have no jurisdiction over

us, period.

 

OTIS: John, when you enter politics--

 

JOHN ADAMS: Which is never!

 

OTIS: --you'll learn you have to compromise. We have to

get all the colonies together on this, and the southern

colonies would never support a position that strong.

 

JOHN ADAMS: It seems to me they just keep replacing one

tax with another. Where does it end?

 

OTIS: With colonial representation in Parliament.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: But this, of course, didn't happen.

What happened was an escalation of the conflict, and the

beginning of the history that you study in school. Today

no one knows about James Otis but everyone knows that

Samuel Adams and his Mohawks held a Boston Tea Party.

 

SONG 5 - THE QUARTET

 

"Revolutionary Tea", traditional


††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††13.

 

 

There was an old lady lived over the sea/ And she was an

Island Queen./ Her daughter lived off in a new countrie,/

With an ocean of water between;/ The old lady's pockets were

full of gold/ But never contented was she,/ So she called on

her daughter to pay her a tax/ Of three pence a pound on her

tea,/ Of three pence a pound on her tea.

 

"Now mother, dear mother," the daughter replied,/ "I shan't

do the thing you ask./ I'm willing to pay a fair price for

the tea,/ But never the three penny tax."/ "You shall,"

quoth the mother, and reddened with rage,/ "For you're my

own daughter, you see,/ And sure, 'tis quite proper the

daughter should pay/ Her mother a tax on her tea,/ Her

mother a tax on her tea."

 

And so the old lady her servant called up/ And packed off a

budget of tea;/ And eager for three pence a pound, she put/

In enough for a large family./ She order'd her servants to

bring home the tax,/ Declaring her child should obey,/ Or

old as she was, and almost woman grown,/ She'd half whip her

life away.

 

The tea was conveyed to the daughter's door,/ All down by

the ocean's side;/ And the bouncing girl pour'd out every

pound/ In the dark and boiling tide./ And then she called

out to the Island Queen,/ "O mother, dear mother," quoth

she,/ "Your tea you may have when 'tis steep'd enough/ But

never a tax from me."

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Protest against the taxes increased so

much that England stationed troops in Boston to maintain

law and order. What resulted was more tension than ever.

Then, on the snowy night of March 5, 1770, a growing

crowd began taunting soldiers at the Custom House.

Finally British troops fired into the crowd, killing

four men. Today you call this "the Boston Massacre." The

soldiers were arrested and put to trial and, to the

surprise of many, the lawyer defending them was John

Adams.

 

SCENE 14: JOHN ADAMS

 

JOHN ADAMS: I have the example of James Otis, who would

insist that every man in the Province has the right to a

fair trial and to fair legal representation. Therefore,

though there be no less popular task in Boston, I agree

to defend the British soldiers in the trial of the so-

called masacre.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: When the soldiers were found innocent,

Samuel Adams was outraged. More tension than ever filled

the streets.

 

CROWD: No justice! No justice! No justice!


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 14.

 

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: All of this depressed my brother.

Everywhere Jemmy looked, he saw his beloved Constitution

being violated, and as the conflict between England and

the colonies escalated, so did Jemmy's frustration and

instability. He started swearing at strangers on the

streets. He fell into fits, destroying furniture and

breaking windows. And he would say the oddest things at

the oddest times, even in the House ...

 

OTIS: The Lt. Governor claims that I destroyed his slate

roof! Can anything be more patently absurd? Think of the

logic of such a statement. The Lt. Governor admits that

a mob of furies ransacked his home, destroying almost

everything. If a house is destroyed, then of what use is

its roof? But let me assure my colleagues that I did not

destroy the Lt. Governor's slate roof or, for that

matter, any slate roof in the Province. I could never

destroy a slate roof because, in fact, I adore them! I

have never uttered a sentiment in this hallowed hall

more sincere than what I will tell you now: that I wish

my house had a slate roof! If I had not become a lawyer,

surely I would have taken up the trade of manufacturing

slate roofs!

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: When Jemmy started picking fights in

the House of Representatives, sometimes coming to blows,

it was the last straw.

 

SCENE 15: COL. OTIS, RUTH, HUTCHINSON

 

COL. OTIS: My son, James Otis, Jr., has behaved so

erratically in public as to endanger himself, his

family, his friends, and all the citizens of America. It

is because of this that I must, as his father, and in

behalf of all who love him, and all who mourn the loss

of the fine intellect once uniquely his -- I must

request that he be declared non compos mentis, and

further request that he be removed from Boston, by

whatever means necessary, so he may be cared for in the

country, where we hope he will be free of those personal

and political pressures that have contributed to his

breakdown.

 

RUTH OTIS: There's nothing else we can do.

 

HUTCHINSON: Therefore, be it declared that on this day,

December 3, 1771, James Otis, Jr., shall be bound hand

and foot and removed from Boston.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: So Jemmy spent the war in exile in the

country. I convinced him to organize his manuscripts.

When the war was over, I would edit and publish them, a

project that would require many volumes and would

establish my brother's place in history.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 15.

 

 

Beat.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: But after we'd won the war and the

colonies struggled to piece together a new government,

many of us wondered if Jemmy hadn't been right all along.

Majority opinion was moving in the direction of replacing

a King with an aristocratic President, of proposing a

Constitution without including written guarantees of

personal rights. Then what had we gone to war for? Often

after the war, my husband and I debated this question

with Jemmy.

 

SCENE 16: OTIS, WARREN, MERCY

 

OTIS: Must we tear government down before we can repair

its deficiencies?

 

WARREN: England left us no choice.

 

OTIS: England? Or ourselves?

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: England, I think.

 

OTIS: Look at the government they want to give us now.

 

WARREN: I know. We have a new generation to educate.

Where was Jefferson in '61? Studying Latin -- and

probably using Jemmy's textbook!

 

OTIS: This new Constitution grants fewer liberties than

the one you overthrew.

 

WARREN: Some of us are demanding that a Bill of Rights be

amended to it.

 

OTIS: Our liberty was secure in the Constitution we

already had. If only they'd granted us representation in

Parliament ...

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: John Hancock declared a James Otis

Day, to honor the man John Adams called "the First

Patriot." It was a glorious celebration, but somehow it

only depressed Jemmy further. He kept saying Hancock was

carrying on like a High Tory, that the revolution had

replaced one conservative aristocracy with another.

 

A beat.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: Afterwards we all came home. A

thunderstorm was approaching. Jemmy excused himself to

take a walk. What happened next was beyond belief.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 16.

 

 

SCENE 17: WARREN, MERCY

 

WARREN: Jemmy was standing in the doorway, after his

walk, leaning on his cane and watching the storm. He was

still depressed, thinking the war had been for naught.

Suddenly there was a deafening crash of thunder, blinding

lightning -- and Jemmy fell to the ground, dead.

Apparently the lightning had hit the chimney, run along

a rafter and down the doorpost, to where he was waiting

for it.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: When God in anger saw the spot / On

Earth to Otis given / In thunder as from Sinai's mount /

He snatch'd him back to heaven.

 

WARREN: Jemmy died as quickly as one blows out a flame.

 

MERCY OTIS WARREN: A few days later I went to get his

manuscripts, to continue editing them for publication. I

couldn't find them. Finally I saw the remains of a page

in the fireplace and, seeing the pile of ashes there,

realized what had happened. In his depression, Jemmy had

burned his life's work. Now there would be little

historical record of the accomplishments of James Otis.

His name would not be sung in the songs of victory. And

history would all but forget him.

 

SONG 6 - THE QUARTET

 

"Jefferson and Liberty"

 

The gloomy night before us Dies,/ The reign of terror now is

o'er;/ Its gags, inquisitors, and spies,/ Its herds of

harpies are no more!

 

CHORUS: Rejoice, Columbia's sons, rejoice!/ To tyrants never

bend the knee,/ But join with heart, and soul, and voice,/

For Jefferson and liberty!

 

No lordling here, with gorging jaws/ Shall wring from

industry the food;/ Nor fiery bigot's holy laws/ Lay waste

our fields and streets in blood!

 

Here strangers from a thousand shores/ Compelled by tyranny

to roam,/ Shall find, amidst abundant stores,/ A nobler and

a happier home.

 

Here Art shall lift her laurelled head,/ Wealth, Iudustry,

and Peace, divine;/ And where dark, pathless forests spread,/

Rich fields and lofty cities shine.

 

THE END