'Taxation without representation is tyranny'
& 12 other tax quotes for the Fourth of July
Saturday, July 02, 2016
The Founding Fathers are getting renewed attention, thanks in large part to the award-winning smash Broadway hit musical "Hamilton."
And while George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the titular Alexander Hamilton, who became the new country's first Treasury Secretary, deserve much credit for our independence, on this Fourth of July also save some praise for James Otis, Jr.
Quotable colonial attorney: Otis, pictured above, was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts who contested the law and power of the British by arguing that Writs of Assistance, what we now call search warrants, were a form of tyranny. He represented 53 Boston merchants in fighting the Crown's search and seizure powers in a 1761 trial.
Otis lost the case, but made a speech that included a phrase still widely quoted today: "One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle."
A young John Adams, who heard the speech, said that Otis' role in contesting British writs was "the spark in which originated the American Revolution [and] breathed into the nation the breath of life."
As the Revolutionary spark became a full-fledged fire, Otis became a political activist, pamphleteer and legislator working with the patriots.
And Otis is responsible for the tax quote that is generally recognized as the defining credo of the American Revolution:
"Taxation without representation is tyranny."
That's the first of 13 tax-related quotes, the number chosen to honor the 13 American colonies that broke away from Great Britain, contained in a special July 4th feature I put together for Bankrate. The recurrence of 13 also earns it this holiday weekend's By the Numbers honor.
13 notable tax quotes: The tax quotes slide show -- or you can view it as one page if you prefer by clicking the option at the bottom left of the first slide about Otis* -- also has comments from U.S. presidents, a popular early American author, a Supreme Court Justice and even a former Internal Revenue Service commissioner.
*Actually, the full slide show in any form apparently is no longer available on Bankrate. You can, however, read the story as a PDF.
Some of the quotes are funny, others insightful, but all are thought-provoking glimpses of how we U.S. residents have viewed taxes in general and our tax system in particular through the years.
Check it out and impress family and friends by quoting your favorite tax saying at an Independence Day gathering.
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