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SCOTT, WINFIELD (1786-1866), American general, was born near Petersburg, Virginia, 13th June 1786, the grandson of a Scottish refugee from the field of Culloden. He was a student at William and Mary College in 1805, and was admitted to the bar at Rich-mond, Virginia, in 1807. One of the sudden war excite-rnents of the time changed the course of his life, and he obtained a captain's commission in the United States army in 1808. He served on the Niagara frontier throughout the war of 1812-15, and became one of its leading figures, rising rapidly through all the grades of the service to that of major-general, which was then the highest. Among other curious testimonials to his valour aud conduct, he received from Princeton College in 1814 the honorary degree of doctor of laws, a distinction on which he never ceased to look with peculiar satisfaction. In 1841 he became the senior major-general of the army, and in 1855, after he had passed out of political life, the exceptional grade of lieutenant-general was created for him. His most noteworthy military achievement was his conduct of the main campaign against Mexico in 1847. Landing (9th March) at Vera Cruz with but 5500 men, he fought his way through a hostile country to the capital city of Mexico, which he captured 14th September, thereby practically ending the war. His service, however, was not confined to the army ; from 1815 until 1861 he was the most continuously prominent public man of the country, receiving and justifying every mark of public confidence in his integrity, tact, and reasonableness. At a time (1823) when duelling was almost an imperative duty of an officer, he resisted successfully the persistent efforts of a brother officer (Andrew Jackson) to force him into a combat ; and the simple rectitude of his intentions was so evident that he lost no ground in public estimation. In 1832, when ordered to Charleston by President Jackson during the "nullification" troubles, he secured every advan-tage for the Government, while his skilful and judicious conduct gave no occasion to South Carolina for an out-break. In like manner, in the Black Hawk Indian troubles of 1832-33, in the Canadian "Patriot War " of 1837-38, in the boundary dispute of 1838 between Maine and New Brunswick, in the San Juan difficulty in 1859, wherever there was imminent danger of war and a strong desire to keep the peace, all thoughts turned instinctively to Scott as a fit instrument of an amicable settlement, and his success always justified the choice. Such a career seemed a gateway to political preferment, and his position was strengthened by the notorious fact that, as he was a Whig, the Democratic administration had persistently tried to subordinate his claims to those of officers of its own party. In 1852 his party nominated him for the presi-dency; but, though his services had been so great and his capacity and integrity were beyond question, he had other qualities which counted he,avily against him. He was easily betrayed into the most egregious blunders of speech and action, which drew additional zest from his portly and massive form and a somewhat pompous cere-moniousness of manner. He destroyed his chances of election in the North. The Southern Whigs, believing him to be under the influence of the Seward or anti-slavery wing of the party, cast no strong vote for him, and he was overwhelmingly defeated in both sections, completing the final overthrow of his party. In 1861 he remained at the head of the United States armies, in spite of the secession of his State, until November, when he retired on account of old age and infirmities. After travelling for a time in Europe, be published in 1864 his autobiography, a work which reveals the strong and weak points of his character, - his integrity and complete honesty of purpose, his inclina-tion to personal vanity, his rigid precision in every point of military precedent and etiquette, and his laborious affecta-tion of an intimate acquaintance with belles lettres. He died at West Point, New York, 29th May 1866.
The Autobiography of Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, LL.D., in two volumes, gives the facts of his career at length. For his defeat in 1852, see Von Holst's Constitutional History, vol. iv. p. 171 of the miginal, p. 206 of the English translation.