James Otis was one of the most passionate and effective protectors of American rights during the 1670s, but his bright star dimmed during his lifetime and remain so today. At the beginning of his career, Otis was a political conservative and was rewarded for his loyalty in 1756, with an appointment as an advocate general in the vice admiralty court. In 1769, at the height of his popularity and influence, Otis was pulled from the public stage. Many New England merchants had restored to illegal activities in order to avoid the onerous acts of trade that governed commerce through the British Empire. The crown attempted to crack down on the violators and had introduced a new legal instrument. Otis’s conversion from a conservative royal employee to radical critic is not explained solely in terms of constitutional scruples. In 1761, the newly appointed governor of Massachusetts, Sir Francis Bernard, had selected Thomas Hutchinson to be new chief justice of the colony’s superior court.