Harrison Gray Otis - Encyclopedia

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HARRISON GRAY OTIS (1765-1848), American politician, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 8th of October 1765. He was a nephew of James Otis, and the son of Samuel Allyne Otis (1740-1814), who was a member of the Confederation Congress in 1787-1788 and secretary of the United States Senate from its first session in 1789 until his death. Young Otis graduated from Harvard College in 1783, was admitted to the bar in 1786, and soon became prominent as a Federalist in politics. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1796-1797, in the National House of Representatives in 1797-1801, as district-attorney for Massachusetts in 1801, as speaker of the state House of Representatives in 1803-1805, as a member of the state Senate from 1805 to 1811, and as president of that body in 1805-1806 and 1808-1811, as a member of the United States Senate from 1817 to 1822, and as mayor of Boston in 1829-1832. He was strongly opposed to the War of 1812, and was a leader in the movement culminating in the Hartford Convention, which he defended in a series of open letters published in 1824, and in his inaugural address as mayor of Boston. A man of refinement and education, a member of an influential family, a popular social leader and an eloquent speaker - at the age of twenty-three he was chosen by the town authorities of Boston to deliver the Independence Day oration - Otis yet lacked conspicuous ability as a statesman. He died in Boston on the 28th of October 1848.

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