June 21 - 1768: James Otis Jr. gives "Birth of Independence" speech

1952: Hero captain goes down with his ship. 2006: Wi-fi network planned for Cape
James Otis Jr. stands before the Barnstable County Courthouse along side his equally famous sister Mercy Otis Warren. Photo by Maggie Kulbokas.

1768: Barnstable's James Otis, Jr. stands his ground

Speech called "Birth of our Independence"

On this day in 1768, James Otis, Jr. gave a characteristically fiery speech to his fellow legislators in Boston. He referred to the British House of Commons as a gathering of "button-makers, horse jockey gamesters, pensioners, pimps, and whore-masters."

The colony's royal governor denounced Otis's tirade as the most "insolent. . . treasonable declamation that perhaps was ever delivered." Otis's speech in June 1768 was one of many that attacked Parliament for its efforts to squeeze more revenue from the American colonies.

"A man's house is his castle"

His insistence that "a man's house is his castle" and later that there be "no taxation without representation" remain etched in our collective memory long after his name, and his role in the events leading up to the Revolution, have been forgotten.

John Adams and Thomas Hutchinson, the Crown-appointed governor of Massachusetts between 1771 and 1774, agreed on at least one point: the story of the American Revolution began with James Otis, Jr. Fifty years after Otis delivered a blistering attack on the British use of Writs of Assistance (general search warrants), Adams wrote, "Then and there the child Independence was born." Yet, even before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, James Otis had already disappeared from public view.

James Otis, Jr., was born in 1725 in the Cape Cod village of West Barnstable. A prominent figure in Massachusetts politics, his father represented Barnstable in the General Court for many years.

1952: Friday the 13th proves undoing for brave trawler Captain

On this day in 1952, newspapers reported on a captain who leaped to his death rather than jump into a crowded dory when his fishing trawler was sunk by a freighter north of Provincetown:

Skipper Leaps Into Sea Lest He Crowd Dory After Trawler, Tanker Collide -- 12 Saved

Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. June 21, 1952, Saturday

BOSTON, June 21 -- The 100-foot Gloucester fishing trawler Albatross and the 10,000-ton tanker Esso Chattanooga collided early today off Provincetown, Mass. The captain of the trawler was lost...  The captain's wife reported he had joked about taking his vessel out on Friday the 13th...

(Above photo: The 10,000 ton Esso Chattanooga slammed into the 100-foot Albatross off Provincetown on June 21, 1952.)


2006: "OpenCape" first proposed, would protect communication

Came to fruition seven years later

On this day in 2006, we reported that wireless Internet service would be less vulnerable to the Cape's storms. The OpenCape System would allow for emergency communication on the Cape.

The warnings of hurricanes and bad storms this season has prompted many Cape Codders to speculate about our ability to communicate with the outside world and one another in such an event. The fear is that as in past storms, strong winds could disable our power and telephone lines causing a communication breakdown. Dan Gallagher, the IT director for Cape Cod Community College warns that our power could be "knocked out for weeks at least." A retired Navy information technology specialist, Gallagher is working with the Cape Cod Technology Council to develop a wireless Internet plan. The plan, called OpenCape, would provide wireless Internet capability for Cape residents during emergencies. The transmitters would be located near emergency shelters from the bridge to the tip of the Cape.

UPDATE: Seven years later, OpenCape became a reality at the launch of the system on Friday, June 14, 2013 at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.

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