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 Senate seat in 1976 and retired in 1977.
Early life and education
The son of Hugh Doggett and Jane Lee (née Lewis) Scott, Hugh Doggett Scott, Jr. 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 frequently attending 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. He served in that position until 1941, and 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.
In 1940, after longtime Republican incumbent George Darrow decided to retire, Scott was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district. At the time, the district was based in Northwest Philadelphia. He defeated Democratic candidate Gilbert Cassidy by a margin of 3,362 votes. In 1942, he was re-elected to a second term after defeating Democrat Thomas Minehart, a former Philadelphia City Councilman and future State Treasurer, receiving nearly 56% of the vote.
In 1943, he became a member of the Virginia Society of the Cincinnati.
In 1944, Scott was narrowly defeated for re-election by Democrat Herb McGlinchey, losing by 2,329 votes. He served in the U.S. Navy during the remainder of World War II, reaching the rank of commander. In 1946, following his military service, Scott successfully ran to reclaim his House seat; during the campaign, he spoke out against President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "betrayal at Yalta" and communists in Washington, D.C. He handily defeated McGlinchey by a margin of more than 23,000 votes. He was subsequently re-elected to five more terms.
During his tenure in the House, Scott established himself as a strong internationalist after voting in favor of the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, foreign aid to Greece and Turkey, and the Marshall Plan. He also earned a reputation as a moderate to liberal Republican, supporting public housing, rent control, and the abolition of the poll tax and other legislation sought by the Civil Rights Movement. From 1948 to 1949, he served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, a position he received after helping New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey obtain the Republican nomination in the 1948 presidential election. Facing staunch opposition from Ohio Senator Bob Taft, Scott barely survived a no-confidence ballot but nevertheless resigned as RNC chairman. He later served as campaign chairman for Dwight D. Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election.
In 1958, after fellow Republican Edward Martin declined to run for re-election, Scott was elected to the U.S. Senate. He narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent, Governor George Leader, by a margin of 51 to 48 percent. Scott continued his progressive voting record in the Senate, 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 later sponsored 12 bills to implement the recommendations of the Civil Rights Commission. A memorable quote from Hugh Scott came during the U-2 Incident in 1960, when Senator Scott said that "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 moderate Congressman Bill Scranton over the more conservative Judge Robert Woodside, a former State 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; he overcame the national landslide for Democrat Lyndon B. 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 E. Sanders regarding the Georgia legislature's refusal to seat the recently elected Julian Bond in their state House of Representatives. This 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 51 to 45 percent margin, and served until January 3, 1977. He was elected Senate Minority Whip in January 1969. Following the death of Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen in September of that year, 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'.
He was Chairman of the Select Committee on Secret and Confidential Documents (92nd Congress). He wielded tremendous influence.
Scott was displeased with the Nixon Administration, believing that it was aloof, unapproachable, and contemptuous of him. Scott believed that he would be given a major role in setting Administration policy, and he was disappointed when he did not receive it. 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 Nixon, Scott sought assurance from Ford that Scott would be able to address Ford as "Jerry" even after Ford became President.
Scott was one of the three Republican congressional leaders to meet President Richard 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 congressional delegation on August 7 was led by senior party leader and 1964 Presidential nominee Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) and also included House Minority Leader John Jacob Rhodes (R-AZ). The erosion of Nixon's support had progressed following 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. He acknowledged having received $45,000, but claimed these were legal campaign contributions.
He did not run for reelection in 1976 and was succeeded by Republican John Heinz. The same year, he chaired the Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican National Convention.
Scott was a resident of Washington, D.C., and later, Falls Church, Virginia, until his death there on July 21, 1994. 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.