free labor. Suppose, now, a family of poor whites in Carolina
It was in this period of decline and obscuration that James Otis witnessed through the gathering shadows the rise to distinction and fame of many of the patriots whom he had led in the first campaigns for liberty. John Adams and Hancock were now at the fore battling for independence. Among those who rose to eminence in the immortal eighth decade was Samuel Alleyne Otis, who in 1776 was elected a representative in the great Congress of the Revolution. James did not live to see his brother become speaker of the House, but he witnessed in 1780 his service as a member of the Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts. Afterward, in 1787, he was a commissioner to negotiate a settlement with the participants in Shay's Rebellion. With the organization of the new national government he became Secretary of the Senate of the United States, and served in that capacity until his death, April 22, 1814.
In 1781, Mr. Otis was taken by his friend, Colonel Samuel Osgood, to the home of the latter in Andover. There the enfeebled patriot passed the remainder of his life. He became very obese, and his nervous excitability to an extent subsided.
He was amiable and interesting to his friends. His health was in some measure restored, but his intellectual strength did not return. He thought of going back to Boston, and in one instance he accepted and conducted a case in the court of Common Pleas; but his manner was that of a paretic giant.
The favorable turn in Mr. Otis's condition was at length arrested by an attempt on his part to dine with Governor Hancock. At the dinner he was observed to become first sad and then to waver into mental occultation. He was taken by his brother, Hon. Samuel Alleyne Otis, to Andover. The event convinced the sufferer that the end of his life was not distant.
Strange, strange are the foregleams of the things to come! On one occasion he said to his sister, Mrs. Warren, "I hope when God Almighty in his Providence shall take me out of time into eternity, it will be by a flash of lightning!" The tradition goes that he frequently gave expression to this wish. Did the soul foresee the manner of its exit?
A marvelous and tragic end was indeed at hand. On the 23d of May, 1783, only a few months before the Briton left our shores never to return but by the courtesy of the Republic, a thundercloud, such as the season brings in New England, passed over Andover.
James Otis stood against the lintel of the door watching the commotion of the elements. There was a crash of thunder. The lightning, serpent-like, darted from heaven to earth and passed through the body of the patriot! Instantly he was dead.
There was no mark upon him; no contortion left its snarling twist on the placid features of him who had contributed so much of genius and patriotic fire to the freedom and future greatness of his country--so much to the happiness of his countrymen.