In the novel, Johnny Tremain, what positions in favor of revolution are argued by Sam Adams and James Otis? How does Johnny react to Otis's words?

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sam and John Adams are on their way to Philadelphia to the Continental Congress.  Someone mentions peace to Sam Adams and he responds with

"No.  That time is past.  I will work for war: the complete freedom of these colonies from any European power." (pg 188)

He continues to say that they have  been working for peace for ten years, and it hasn't gotten them anywhere. He says that he will be cautious about what he says in Philadelphia, but he will only work for war.

"War --- bloody and terrible death and destruction.  But out of it shall come such a country as was never seen on this earth before.  We will fight..." (pg 188)

James Otis then enters the room. Sam Adams and James Otis are NOT friends. Otis challenges Sam Adams and asks what they are fighting for?  Sam tells him to free Boston from the British.  James says that is not enough of a reason.  Boston has actually had pretty good treatment from the British.  Someone then suggested that it was for the taxes.  James says that it isn't even worth it for the American pocket book.  He says,

".....we are fighting for the rights such as they will be enjoying a hundred years from now.......There shall be no more tyranny...a man shall choose who it is shall rule over him.....Because we fight they shall see freedom like a new sun rising in the west.  Those natural rights God has given to every man, no matter how humble...or crazy." (pg 190)

Otis then goes on to explain that the people of England don't truly have representation in the Parliament.  He tells them that if we fight for the right to representation and for the rights of every man, then humble people in France, Italy, Germany, and England will all be affected and will all benefit.

James Otis was a wonderful orator, and he affected the whole room. Johnny was so entranced with his words that sometimes he could hardly follow their logic. However the words that affected Johnny the most were,

"We give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills.... we fight, we die, for a simple thing.  Only that a man can stand up." (pg 192)

That last sentence sticks in Johnny's mind.  It was a simple idea but it was powerful. 

Read the study guide:
Johnny Tremain

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