Hugh Doggett Scott Jr. (November 11, 1900 – July 21, 1994) was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Republican Party, he represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He served as Senate Minority Leader from 1969 to 1977.
Born and educated in Virginia, Scott moved to Philadelphia to join his uncle’s law firm. He was appointed as Philadelphia’s assistant district attorney in 1926 and remained in that position until 1941. Scott won election to represent Northwest Philadelphia in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1940. He lost re-election in 1944, but won his seat back in 1946 and served in the House until 1959. Scott established a reputation as an internationalist and moderate Republican Congressman. After helping Thomas E. Dewey win the 1948 Republican presidential nomination, Scott held the position of Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1948 to 1949. He also served as Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s campaign chairman in the 1952 presidential election.
Scott won election to the Senate in 1958, narrowly prevailing over Democratic Governor George M. Leader. He was a strong advocate for civil rights legislation, and he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. He won election as Senate Minority Whip in January 1969 and was elevated to Senate Minority Leader after Everett Dirksen‘s death later that year. As the Republican leader in the Senate, Scott urged President Richard Nixon to resign in the aftermath of the Watergate Scandal. Scott declined to seek another term in 1976 and retired in 1977.
Early life and education
The son of Hugh Doggett and Jane Lee (née Lewis) Scott, Hugh Doggett Scott Sr. was born on an estate in Fredericksburg, Virginia, that was once owned by George Washington. His grandfather served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War under General John Hunt Morgan, and his great-grandmother was the niece of President Zachary Taylor. After attending public schools in Fredericksburg, he studied at Randolph–Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, from which he graduated in 1919. He enrolled in the Student Reserve Officers Training Corps and the Students’ Army Training Corps during World War I.
In 1922, Scott earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law at Charlottesville, where he was a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society and the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. His interest in politics was established after he frequently attended committee hearings in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Early political career
Scott was admitted to the bar in 1922 and then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he joined his uncle’s law firm. Two years later, he married Marian Huntington Chase to whom he remained married until her death in 1987. The couple had one daughter, Marian.
Scott, who had become a regular worker for the Republican Party, was appointed assistant district attorney of Philadelphia in 1926 and served in that position until 1941. He claimed to have prosecuted more than 20,000 cases during his tenure. From 1938 to 1940, he served as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Reform of the Magistrates System.
United States House of Representatives
In 1940, after longtime Republican incumbent George P. Darrow decided to retire, Scott was elected to the US House of Representatives from Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district. The district was then based in Northwest Philadelphia. He defeated Democratic candidate by a margin of 3,362 votes. In 1942, he was re-elected to a second term after defeating Democrat , a former member of the Philadelphia City Council and future Pennsylvania Treasurer; Scott received nearly 56% of the vote.
Scott joined the United States Navy Reserve in 1940. He served during World War II, and was posted to both Iceland with the Atlantic Fleet and the USS New Mexico with the United States Pacific Fleet. He was among US forces that entered Japan on the first day of post-war occupation, and was discharged with the rank of commander.
In 1946, Scott reclaimed his House seat, handily defeating McGlinchey by a margin of more than 23,000 vote by speaking out against both President Franklin Roosevelt‘s “betrayal at Yalta” and communists in Washington, DC. He was reelected five times, and served until winning election to the U.S. Senate.
During his tenure in the House, Scott established himself as a strong internationalist by voting in favor of the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, foreign aid to both Greece and Turkey, and the Marshall Plan. He also earned a reputation as a moderate Republican by supporting public housing, rent control, and the abolition of the poll tax as well as other legislation sought by the Civil Rights Movement. From 1948 to 1949, he served as chairman of the Republican National Committee; he received the position after helping New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey obtain the Republican nomination in the 1948 presidential election. Facing staunch opposition from Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft, Scott barely survived a no-confidence ballot but still resigned as RNC chairman. He later served as campaign chairman for Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election.
United States Senate
In 1958, after fellow Republican Edward Martin declined to run for re-election, Scott was elected to the US Senate. He narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent, Governor George M. Leader, by a margin of 51 to 48 percent. Scott continued his progressive voting record in the Senate by opposing President Eisenhower’s veto of a housing bill in 1959 and a redevelopment bill in 1960. He voted to end segregationist Democratic senators’ filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, and he later sponsored 12 bills to implement the recommendations of the Civil Rights Commission. A memorable quote from Scott came during the U-2 Incident in 1960, when he said, “We have violated the eleventh Commandment — Thou Shall Not Get Caught.”
In 1962, Scott threatened to run for Governor of Pennsylvania if the Republican Party did not nominate the moderate Representative William W. Scranton over the more conservative Judge Robert E. Woodside, a former Pennsylvania Attorney General. He even supported Scranton as a more liberal alternative to conservative Senator Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination in the 1964 presidential election. Scott also faced re-election in 1964 and overcame the national landslide for Democratic President Lyndon Johnson to defeat the state Secretary of Internal Affairs, Democrat Genevieve Blatt, by approximately 70,000 votes.
Scott voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. In 1966, along with two other Republican Senators and five Republican Representatives, Scott signed a telegram sent to Georgia Governor Carl Sanders on the Georgia legislature’s refusal to seat the recently elected Julian Bond in its state House of Representatives. The refusal, said the telegram, was “a dangerous attack on representative government. None of us agree with Mr. Bond’s views on the Vietnam War; in fact we strongly repudiate these views. But unless otherwise determined by a court of law, which the Georgia Legislature is not, he is entitled to express them.”
Scott supported New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican nomination in the 1968 presidential election. Scott was reelected again in 1970, defeating Democratic State Senator William Sesler by a margin of 51 to 45 percent. Scott served until January 3, 1977 and was elected Senate Minority Whip in January 1969. After the death of Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen in September 1969, Scott was narrowly elected Senate Minority Leader over Tennessee Senator Howard Baker (Dirksen’s son-in-law), serving until 1977.
In 1967, Scott held a Fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford, where he contributed regularly to Alan Montefiore‘s politics seminar for postgraduates. Once, when he and Montefiore started talking at the same time, Scott carried on speaking with the amiable excuse: “You can remember what you want to say longer than I can.”
Scott was displeased with the Nixon administration and believed that it was aloof, unapproachable, and contemptuous of him. Scott believed that he would be given a major role in setting administration policy but was disappointed when that did not occur. Actively assisting in the behind-the-scenes transition from the Nixon administration to the Ford administration in the months leading up to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, Scott sought assurance from Gerald Ford that Scott would be able to address Ford as “Jerry” even after Ford became President.
Scott was one of the three Republican leaders in Congress to meet Nixon in the Oval Office of the White House to tell Nixon that he had lost support of the party in Congress, on August 7, 1974. The meeting came the day before Nixon would announce his resignation from the presidency. The delegation was led by senior party leader and Arizona Senator Goldwater and also included House Minority Leader John Jacob Rhodes (R-Arizona). The erosion of Nixon’s support had progressed after the June 1972 Watergate break-in.
In 1976, the Senate undertook an ethics inquiry into accusations that he had received payment from lobbyists for the Gulf Oil Corporation. Scott acknowledged having received $45,000 but claimed that they were legal campaign contributions.
Scott was a resident of Washington, DC and then Falls Church, Virginia, until his death there. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His papers are held at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.
- The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Company. 1960.
- Binder, David (1994-07-23). “Senator Hugh Scott, 93, Dies; Former Leader of Republicans”. The New York Times.
- Beers, Paul B. (1980). Pennsylvania Politics Today and Yesterday: The Tolerable Accommodation. Pennsylvania State University Press.
- “SCOTT, Hugh Doggett, Jr., (1900 – 1994)”. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Coakley, Michael B. (1994-07-23). “Hugh Scott, A Giant In Pa. And Congress, Dies At 93”. Philadelphia Inquirer.
- “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 5, 1940” (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- “Statistics of the Congressional Election of 1942” (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- “Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 7, 1944” (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- “Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1946” (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- “Dewey Forces Lose Battle for Republican Leadership”. The Los Angeles Times. August 5, 1949. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
- “Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 1958” (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- Siracusa, Joseph M. (2004). The Kennedy Years. New York: Facts On File, Inc.
- Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men, The Daring Early Years of the CIA., p. 219
- “Georgia House Dispute”. Congressional Quarterly. 24 (3): 255. January 21, 1966.Cited in African American Involvement in the Vietnam War
- “Hugh Scott: A Featured Biography”. United States Senate.
- Geoffrey Thomas, School of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of London, personal recollection
- Woodward and Bernstein, The Final Days at 186 (New York: Avon Books 1976).
- “Richard Nixon’s resignation: the day before, a moment of truth”, Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
- Binder, David (23 July 1994). “Senator Hugh Scott, 93, Dies; Former Leader of Republicans”. New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Kotlowski, Dean J. “Unhappily Yoked? Hugh Scott and Richard Nixon.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 2001 125(3): 233-266. ISSN 0031-4587 online
- Abstract: While their different public personas, political interests, and institutional duties led to occasional disagreement, President Richard Nixon and Senate Minority Leader Scott were not always unhappily tethered as evidenced by their stances on domestic and foreign issues throughout Nixon’s presidency, during 1968–74. While he jousted with Nixon over racial policies and his Supreme Court nominations, including his choice of Judge Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., of South Carolina, Scott supported much of Nixon’s domestic agenda, applauded the president’s conduct of foreign affairs, backed his Vietnam policy, praised his invasion of Cambodia, publicly proclaimed Nixon’s innocence during the Watergate scandal, and endorsed President Gerald Ford‘s pardon of his predecessor. The Nixon-Scott relationship is notable because it confirms scholars’ assumptions about Nixon’s hot-and-cold association with Congress and indicates that sparring between moderate Republicans like Nixon and Scott was on its way out.
- United States Congress. “Hugh Scott (id: S000174)”. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- The Political Graveyard
- Hugh Scott at Find a Grave
- A film clip “Longines Chronoscope with Rep. Hugh D. Scott Jr.(September 1, 1952)” is available at the Internet Archive
- A film clip “Longines Chronoscope with Rep. Hugh D. Scott Jr. (December 14, 1951)” is available at the Internet Archive