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07/29/2021 03:57 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate

John Morin Scott



Session Position District Party
1899-1900 6 Republican
1901-1902 President Pro Tempore 6 Republican
1903-1904 6 Republican
1905-1906 6 Republican
1907-1908 2 Republican
1909-1910 2 Republican
 Counties   Philadelphia


1858 - 1945

John Morin Scott was born in Philadelphia on September 19, 1858, the son of Lewis Allaire and Frances Anna Wistar Scott. John’s grandfather (also John Morin Scott) served as mayor of Philadelphia, a member of the state House of Representatives, and a delegate to the 1836 Constitutional Convention. Educated in private schools and the Episcopal Academy, the future pro tem enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Arts in 1884. He joined the Philadelphia bar in 1881 after reading law with J. Sergeant Price. Scott married Anne F. Barker, a descendant of Philadelphia’s Wharton family, December 19, 1886. Scott served in the state House of Representatives, 1887-1897, and 1898; elected to the state Senate in the same year. In the House, he led passage of the 1893 “Baker Ballot Bill” and orchestrated the 1897 House caucus vote for Boies Penrose’s successful U.S. Senate campaign. In the Senate he chaired Judiciary General (1901-1902), Finance (1905-1908), President pro tempore (1901-1903), and became the first pro tem to serve ex-officio on all committees in the latter year. Senator Scott supported Matt Quay’s controversial election to the U.S. Senate in 1899, successfully defended the “master politician” against charges of using state treasury funds for personal gain; supported the 1899 National Guard Bill, the session’s Retail License Tax Bill, the 1901 Department of Forestry measure, and the District Attorney-Jury Bill, forbidding “district attorneys to stand aside jurors” during the “empanelling” process. He backed voter registration and direct primary reform, the 1901 Secret Ballot Bill, and the oleo-margarine anti-fraud bill. As 1903 pro tem, he attempted to form a state Department of Labor, encountering intra-party opposition from senator and Mellon attorney Cyrus Woods, John Grady, and Senator Albert Sisson. A key supporter of 1905 pro tem William Sproul’s reform agenda, Scott backed the Harris Stream Pollution Bill, the Thomas Bill (eliminating the fee system), and the abolishment of coal and iron police, a major Pennypacker initiative. He championed the initial attempt at establishing the Pennsylvania State Police, backed legislation “taking away from private water companies the right of eminent domain,” and supported the formation of the Department of Health. The senator wrote the “Scott Education Bills,” providing the classification of school districts and administrative reform in Philadelphia. Senator Scott played an instrumental role in Cyrus Wood’s 1906 Special Session, supporting the restructuring of the Philadelphia civil service system, eliminating the state treasury’s “pet bank” deposit program (subsequent to the Drovers National Bank scandal), and backing the 1906-1907 McCord Primary Election Bill, establishing the state’s modern biennial general election scheme. The latter act moved municipal, local, and general elections to November.  During the session, he presented the “Scott Bill,” reducing the supreme appointive power of the Mayor of Philadelphia, a legislative residual of the old “Bullitt Bill.”  The senator promoted passage of anti-trust laws, relevant to coal-rail combinations, and supported Albert Sisson’s “Railroad Common Carrier Act,” preventing a rail company’s encroachment into the “street passenger railroad” (traction or trolley) business. The senator pursued private practice after retiring from legislative service, representing Philadelphia’s eighth-ward school district as a two-term director.  John was a 1924 prothonotary for the city’s common pleas and municipal courts and a Republican mainstay in Philadelphia’s “Vare administration.” Scott served a number of civic and fraternal positions: deputy governor of the Society of Colonial Wars of Pennsylvania; president of the Pennsylvania Society-Sons of the Revolution; hereditary companion of the Pennsylvania Commandery, Military Order of Foreign Wars; and the Society of the War of 1812.  He directed the American Academy of Music, the Northern Liberties Gas Company, the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company, and served in the Penn Club. Scott also managed the Apprentices’ Library Company, the Athenaeum Library Company, and remained a lifetime member and senior vice president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He held additional memberships in the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Pennsylvania and the Cincinnati and Loyal Legions. The Honorable John Scott passed away on October 3, 1945 in Philadelphia.