John Morin Scott


John Morin Scott was born in New York City in 1730 and graduated from Yale in 1746. He studied law in the office of William Smith (the elder) and was admitted to the New York bar in 1752. Two others were also studying law at that time with William Smith, William Smith (the younger) and William Livingston.

In 1764, John Morin Scott represented Thomas Forsey in the landmark case of Forsey v. Cunningham, while Smith and Livingston represented Cunningham. When Governor Cadwallader Colden tried to interfere with the jury verdict, the three young men vigorously defended the common law and helped Chief Justice Daniel Horsmanden draft his statement to the New York Council. Colden, in his reports to the British authorities, described them as “The d-d triumvirate of Presbyterian lawyers.”

John Morin Scott was one of the founders of the Sons of Liberty and on June 9, 1776, he was appointed brigadier-general of the New York Militia in the service of the Continental Congress. He fought at the battle of Long Island and was wounded at White Plains. When his commission expired in March 1777, ill health forced him to retire from military service.

Scott was appointed to the New York Committee of Safety and also served on the New York Committee of Appointment and from 1777-1782, Scott was a member of the New York Senate. He was a member of the Continental Congress, 1779-1783.

John Morin Scott was the first person to hold office as New York Secretary of State. He was appointed on March 13, 1778 and served until his death on September 14, 1784.



Franklin Bowditch Dexter. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: May 1745-May 1763 (1896)


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