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
New York City
Died1784 (aged 53–54)
New York City
AllegianceUnited States of America
Years of service1775–1777
RankBrigadier General
Commands held1st 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.


The Scott family descends from Sir John Scott, Baronet (1648–1712), of Ancrum, Roxburghshire in Scotland, whose second son, Captain John Scott (1678–1740), emigrated to New York City, where he received the rights of citizenship in 1702, he had nine children, the eldest of which was John Scott (1702–1733), a Manhattan merchant, who married Marian Morin (1703–1755), daughter of Huguenot settler Pierre Morin. Their only child was John Morin Scott.


Scott was born in Manhattan and attended public school there, his father died when he was three years old, and his mother never remarried.

He graduated Yale College in 1746, at the age of 16. After 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.

During the Revolutionary War, John Scott was a member of the New York Provincial Congress 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.

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.

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, he became, instead, New York's first Secretary of State, a state senator, and served as an active delegate to the Continental Congress.

Scott's headstone

His body is interred at the north entrance of Trinity Church, New York, his inscribed slab is visible from the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. An equestrian statue is erected in his honor in Upper Manhattan.

Lewis Allaire Scott, John's son, 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.

Offices, titles, and affiliations[edit]

  • Sons of Liberty founding member
  • New York alderman (1756–1761)
  • New York General Committee member (1775)
  • New York Provincial Congress member (1775–1777)
  • Brigadier General of the New York Militia during the Revolutionary War
  • Member of the State of New York committee to author a state constitution (1776)
  • New York State Senator, Southern District (1777–1782)
  • New York delegate in the Continental Congress (1780 and 1782)
  • Secretary of State of New York (1778–1784); died in office

Additionally, Scott was elected Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court of New York in 1777, but declined.


  • "John Morin Scott". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  • 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). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  • [1] Political Graveyard
  • Google Book Lifes of Eminent Philadelphians, Now Deceased by Henry Simpson (W. Brotherhead, Philadelphia, 1859, pages 867ff on Philadelphia Mayor J. M. Scott and his ancestry)
  • 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.
Political offices
Preceded by
Secretary of State of New York
Succeeded by
Lewis Allaire Scott