Thomas Scott (Orangeman)

Thomas Scott (Orangeman)

Thomas Scott (c. 1842 – 1870) was born in the Clandeboye area of County Down, in what is now Northern Ireland. He was an emigrant to Ontario. [ cite web|url= |title=The Murder of Thomas Scott |accessdate=2007-08-19 |year=1999 |publisher=OrangeNet ] Scott was a surveyor who was employed by the Canadian government during Red River Rebellion and was imprisoned in Upper Fort Garry by Louis Riel and his men while trying to attack it along with 34 other volunteers. Scott was a difficult prisoner who refused to acknowledge his captors self-appointed authority. Scott made an attempt to escape but was recaptured by Riel's men and was summarily executed for committing insubordination following a trial.

Thomas Scott was a member of the Presbyterian Church and the 49th Hastings Battalion of Rifles. He also belonged to the [ Loyal Orange Lodge] as was common amongst male Protestants of the day. The [ Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall] (erected 1902) on Princess Street, Winnipeg, was named to commemorate him.

Charles Boulton's ["Memoirs of the North West Rebellions"] "...Riel was now seeking to obtain as many personal supporters among the English-speaking community as he could, and it was with that view he sent Dan Shea to solicit the suffrages of the prisoners resident at Portage La Prairie. It was this effort on Riel's part that caused Scott to warn the prisoners not to vote for him, and which, consequently, enraged Riel against him. Later on, Scott asked leave to go outside, and was refused by the guards, which led to an altercation. Riel and O'Donogue visited the prison once or twice that afternoon and evening, and used violent language towards Scott. A court-martial was convened to try Scott, composed of Lepine, as president and some of the guards as members, upon whom Riel no doubt wished, with mock show of legality, to throw the responsibility of taking Scott's life. Feeling anxious about what was going on, I asked the guard's permission to go into Scott's room to see him, and questioned him as to what had taken place. I found that similar questions had been put to him as had been put to me, and the same mode of passing sentence had been passed upon him as was passed upon me. I told Scott to be very careful what he said, as, I felt sure that Riel meant mischief and would take his life if he could. I also told him that my life had been spared only in consequence of the exertions that had been made on my behalf. He had sent for the Rev. Mr. Young to come and see him, who arrived some time during the night. Riel had got the opportunity he now wanted, which was to commit his people to an act of violence. Heretofore, there had been no violence or resistance to his wrong doings, but Scott, he thought, had now given sufficient provocation for him to work upon his guards. He represented to his people that Scott was a dangerous man, and if he ever got at large he would take his revenge. So he worked up their feelings to the pitch he desired; at least that is the idea we formed at the time. Riel came in to my room about 11 o'clock on the morning of Scott's death. I spoke to him and said, "Don't you think you are doing a most imprudent act for your own safety in shooting Scott; don't you know enough about history to realize that England has never yet left the most remote region unpenetrated, to punish those who take the life of a British subject?" The only answer I got was, "I did not come here to talk to you about that," and he made some passing remark and went away..."

Boulton supports Métis leader John Bruce's claim that only two bullets from the firing squad actually hit Scott, wounding him once in the left shoulder, and once in the upper chest. A man stepped forward and discharged his pistol close to Scott's head, but the bullet only penetrated the upper part of the left cheek and came out somewhere near the cartilage of the nose. Still not dead, Scott was placed in a kind of coffin, from which he was later reported to cry:

:"For God's sake take me out of here or kill me."which he was denied, and lived on to die slowly in his coffin.the captain who ordered he be left there reportedly said "this coffin shall be your hell, because apparently your God loves your race too much to send you to his."

News of his death made it to Ontario and disturbed the predominantly English-speaking, Protestant population. Upon learning about Scott's death, the Canadian government dispatched troops to Fort Garry from Ontario to restore order. Shortly thereafter the creation of the Manitoba Act and the province of Manitoba occurred.

Though relatively unknown during his lifetime, Scott's death made him a martyr.

Scott's murder led to an outrage in Ontario, and was largely responsible for prompting the Wolseley Expedition to restore order and force Louis Riel, now branded a murderer, to flee the settlement.


External links

* [ Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]

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