James Otis Lecture 2023 (Full Program)


On September 17, 1787, 39 men gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia and signed the United States Constitution. What started in May of that year as an effort by delegates of the several States to amend the Articles of Confederation, resulted, instead, in an agreement by The People of the United States to establish a wholly new government unlike any on earth. Their expressed goal was to secure the blessings of Liberty to themselves and to their posterity. Of the 55 delegates who participated in the Convention that hot summer, 32 were lawyers.

The South Carolina Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates presents the 14th Annual James Otis Lecture. What they formed was not perfect. It was a document which spoke of Liberty yet condoned slavery. It hinted at equality yet gave disproportionate power to smaller states and slave states. It had an unworkable method of selecting an executive branch. Yet what was created after four months of debate, conflict and compromise resulted in a remarkable affirmation of the value of self-government and the rule of law. These principles have endured for more than two centuries.

Remarkable women and men have helped shape our government and preserve our liberties in that span. Many were lawyers. ABOTA hopes that the James Otis Lecture Series will help keep their memories and examples alive.