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HILE Philip was still a collegian, and even indeed a schoolboy, his cousin, John Morin
Scott, whom we have already mentioned, was actively engaged in the affairs of the colony, and had already formed ideas of its future freedom. Perhaps, indeed, it was from him that Philip drew some of his enthusiasm on the subject, as, being considerably his senior in years, Scott's opinions would have great weight with his fatherless young cousin. .
Morin Scott was in reality Philip's father's cousin, their mothers, Mrs. André Freneau and Mrs. Scott, being sisters. Both of these men were gifted with the enthusiastic nature of their French parentage ; but Morin Scott was not so easily carried away by his feelings as was his young cousin, - whether it was from the fact of his early education having been in less exciting times, thus giving him time to learn selfcontrol before the soul-stirring events that immediately preceded the Revolution, or from his habits of logical thought engendered by his steady application to his profession. It may have been partly due to the mixture of Scotch blood in his veins,— his father being a descendant of the ancient Scotch barons of Ancram.
Morin Scott's birth antedated Philip's some twentytwo years; he was graduated from Yale College in the year 1746, and had finished his law course before Philip was born. His marriage took place about the time of his cousin's birth. Scott's wife was Helena, daughter
1 Miss Scott of Ancram, whose name appears amongst the British poets, was a member of this family.
of Peter Rutger and Elizabeth Williams, the daughter of a naval officer of the Port of New York; their children were : Mary, born July 17, 1753; Louis Allaire, afterwards Secretary of State, born February 11, 1754; John Morin, Jr., born May 9, 1755, and baptized by the Reverend Aaron Burro June 15, 1755; and Peter Rutger born July 6, 1756. .
Scott was a stanch whig in the ante-bellum days, and was devoted to the interests of his country; he was considered one of the most eminent lawyers of the time. We find his name in O’Callaghan's “ Documentary History” as being retained by Jacob Daller, who arrived in New York in the year 1765 and invited himself into the
of the French Church, threatening the Consistory to carry the matter into court if they did not receive him. Trouble ensuing, Morin Scott and William Smith & were retained by the aforesaid self-appointee, who was advised by them to submit his difference with the church to arbitration. The Consistory threatened the lawyers for the act and asked for an interview, which was held in the room of the Consistory. After a long and painful process of litigation and personal antagonism Mr. Daller set out for London the year following.
In 1754 we find Scott's name in the records of the French church, of which he does not seem to have been a member, as a witness, along with his cousin André Freneau, Jr., to the marriage of their mutual cousin Marie Allaire; the marriage being held at the house of the bride's parents.
As we have stated in a preceding chapter, Governor Dongan, upon assuming the administration, had given the colony its first Legislative Assembly; which con
1 This lady was step-daughter to Col. Fred. Philipse, the last proprietor of Philipse Manor of Philipseburgh.
2 Father to Aaron Burr the vice-president.
sisted of the governor, two counsellors, and representatives chosen by the people to represent each ward, who were elected annually. Scott had been for five years, or from 1757 to 1762 successively, chosen to represent the “Out-ward,” which comprised Harlem and all that district outside of the city's wall.
During the second attempt made by Parliament in the year 1761 to enforce the Importation Act, the colonial courts were authorized to issue Writs of Assistance, or search-warrants, to constables to enable them to effect an entrance into any locality in which there was the slightest suspicion of goods that had evaded the duty being concealed; and such goods were liable to be seized by those officers. William Smith, William Livingston, and John Morin Scott, all three eminent lawyers, protested through the public print against these proceedings: they claimed that the judiciary was not dependent upon the king; and they protested against the search warrants being issued, denying the government the right of instituting the search.
In Boston, James Otis denounced the Act as unconstitutional, and in a masterly address pleaded the rights of the colonists, which produced a great sensation throughout all the colonies; and hints of resistance even to arms were thrown out.
After the passage of the Stamp Act in the year 1765, although it was not in itself oppressive, Scott publicly resented its being carried into effect, as being illegal and unconstitutional. He, as well as all patriots, claimed that, as British subjects, the Constitution was as dear to them as to all those born in England; and it provided against all forced loans by the Crown, which was in reality taxation without representation. The Act was carried into effect, however, and the colonists divided themselves into two parties; the one upholding the king and styled Tories, and the Whigs, who
deemed it but right to resent even to death all acts of tyranny. The contest between these parties was full of bitterness, and the members of one heaped abuse on those of the other without mercy. The public printers, Rivington on the one side, and Hugh Gaines on the other, tried their utmost to fan the flames, which spread in all directions.
The other colonies took up the matter, and finally James Otis, Massachusetts' eloquent orator, suggested that without leave of the king, each colony should appoint delegates to meet in a congress to discuss the affairs of the nation. To this proposition all the colonies agreed ; the day set for it to convene was October 7, 1765, and by common consent New York City was chosen as the place in which it would be held. Nine of the thirteen States were represented, and the number of delegates was twenty-eight, John Morin Scott representing New York. Timothy Ruggles was elected president of the Congress, and two papers were drawn up; one of which was a Declaration of Rights, and the other an Address to the King. The former set forth that as English subjects the American colonists could not and would not consent to be taxed but by their own representatives. The paper to the king was a humble petition for a more just and humane course of action towards his loyal subjects in America. Memorials were also addressed to the two houses of Parliament. At the Congress it was decided to abandon the use of all such goods as were imported from England, and to stop all commerce between the mother country and the colonies, until she should desist from her illegal efforts to tax them.
A society was then formed called the “Sons of Liberty ;” meetings were held during the summer months, and sharp eyes watched all proceedings. The paper at length arrived, no notice having been taken of their petition; therefore the first night after the
night rattle had gone his rounds, billets were hastily posted on trees throughout the city which read -
PRO PATRIA! The first man that distributes or makes use of stamped paper, let him take care of his house and effects.
Vox Populi 1
James McEvers had been appointed stamp collector for New York, but as he owned a handsome residence near Hanover Square, he thought it wiser to resign his office than his house; and no one being found to fill his vacated position, the paper found no “local habitation ” and was relegated to the fort.
The Sons of Liberty held their meetings at what was then known as the Fields, now City Hall Park; and here platforms were erected, and the population met to listen to the exhortations of the tribunes, amongst whom were Oliver Delancy, John Jay, Alexander McDougall, Isaac Sears, Robert and Philip Livingston, John Morin Scott, John Lamb, Peter Curtentius, Alexander Hamilton, and others. On the opposite side were Cadwallader Colden, Thomas Gage, Revs. Myles Cooper and Auchmuchty, Samuel Bayard, S. H. Cruger, D. Harsmonden, and others.
The thirty-first of October, the day the governor was to take the oath to carry the Act into effect, was kept as a day of public mourning; and in the evening two hundred leading merchants met in the City Arms Coffee House, and passed a resolution to import no more goods from England until the Act was repealed. The following day a meeting was held in the Fields, after which the Sons of Liberty marched to the fort and gave the governor's house, in which the paper was stored, a house-warming.
The Act was repealed, and the following June, upon