John Morin Scott

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John Morin Scott
John Morin Scott (American Revolution brigadier general).jpg
From a 1777 drawing by John Trumbull
Secretary of State of New York
In office
March 13, 1778 – September 14, 1784
Preceded byInaugural holder
Succeeded byLewis Allaire Scott
Personal details
New York City, Province of New York, British America
DiedSeptember 14, 1784(1784-09-14) (aged 53–54)
New York City, New York, United States
ChildrenLewis Allaire Scott
Alma materYale College
Military service
AllegianceUnited States of America
Years of service1775–1777
RankBrigadier General
Commands1st and 2nd New York Battalions; New York militia regiments
Battles/warsBattle of Brooklyn (Long Island)
Battle of Harlem Heights
Battle of White Plains

John Morin Scott (1730 in New York City – September 14, 1784 in New York City) was a lawyer, military officer, and statesman before, during and after the American Revolution.

Early life[edit]

Scott was born in Manhattan in 1730.[1] He was the only child of John Scott (1702–1733), a Manhattan merchant, and Marian (née Morin) Scott (1703–1755). His father died when he was only three years old, and his mother never remarried.[2]

His father was the eldest of nine children born to Captain John Scott (1678–1740), who emigrated to New York City, where he received the rights of citizenship in 1702.[3] His paternal grandfather was the second son of Sir John Scott, 1st Baronet of Ancrum, Roxburghshire in Scotland. His maternal grandfather was Huguenot settler Pierre Morin.[4]

He attended public school in New York before attending Yale College in New Haven, graduating in 1746 at the age of 16.[4]


After graduation from Yale and further study, he was admitted to the New York bar association in 1752, and practiced law in Manhattan, where he also served as an alderman from 1756 to 1761. In 1752, along with William Livingston and William Smith, he founded a weekly journal, the Independent Reflector.[5] From 1756 to 1761, he served as a New York alderman.[1]

American Revolution[edit]

Scott was a founding member of the Sons of Liberty and in 1775, he was a member of the New York General Committee.[1] During the Revolutionary War, John Scott was a member of the New York Provincial Congress (from 1775 to 1777), while also serving as a brigadier general under George Washington in the New York and New Jersey campaign. He commanded the 1st New York (Independent) Battalion, the 2nd New York (County) Battalion, and several New York Militia Regiments. He fought with Putnam's division at the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776, and was the last of Washington's generals to argue against surrendering Manhattan to the British—possibly due to his large landholdings there, including what is now Times Square and New York City's Theater District.[4]

Twenty days later, on September 16, 1776, Scott led the same battalions and regiments at the Battle of Harlem Heights, an American victory. On October 28, 1776, his forces participated in the Battle of White Plains.[4]

Post War life[edit]

In 1776, Scott was a member of the State of New York committee to author a state constitution. After the war, Scott regained his Manhattan estate and, in 1777, was a candidate for the first governorship of New York State, losing to George Clinton. Scott was elected Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court of New York in 1777, but declined.[2][6]

Instead, he became New York's first Secretary of State, a State Senator (representing the Southern District from 1777 to 1782), and served as an active delegate to the Continental Congress in 1780 and 1782.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Scott's headstone

Scott was married to Helena Rutgers (1730–1798),[3] a daughter of Petrus Rutgers and Helena (née Hooglant) Rutgers.[7] Together, they were the parents of:[4]

  • Mary Morin Scott (1753–1796), who married John Litchfield in 1770. After his death in 1775, she married Charles McKnight (1750–1791) in 1778.[4]
  • Lewis Allaire Scott (1759–1798), who married Juliana Sitgreaves (1765–1842). Lewis was one of the two Deputy Secretaries of State during his father's tenure, and in 1784 was appointed to succeed him, dying in office in 1798.[4]

Scott died in New York City on September 14, 1784 and his body was interred at the north entrance of Trinity Church, New York.[1] His inscribed slab is visible from the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. An equestrian statue is erected in his honor in Upper Manhattan.


  1. ^ a b c d e "SCOTT, John Morin - Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Simpson, Henry (1859). The Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, Now Deceased. Philadelphia: W. Brotherhead. p. 867ff. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b The Scott Genealogical Quarter, Vol. 3, No. 4. Heritage Books. January 1990. p. 127. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Jordan, John Woolf (1911). Colonial Families of Philadelphia. Lewis Publishing Company. p. 1434. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  5. ^ Dillon, Dorothy R. The New York Triumvirate: A Study of the Legal and Political Careers of William Livingston, John Morin Scott, William Smith, Jr.. New York: Columbia University Press, 1949. Reprint: 1968. ISBN 0-404-51548-7
  6. ^ wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Scott, John Morin". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  7. ^ Charter, Constitution, By-laws, Officers, Committees, Members, Etc., 1896. Colonial Society of Pennsylvania. 1908. p. 126. Retrieved 15 August 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Secretary of State of New York
Succeeded by
Lewis Allaire Scott