Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853–1934
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
The taste for adventure that drew Scott to the military also piqued his interest in the tenacity of Native cultures in an environment rife with danger and uncertainty. Armand S. La Potin describes how Scott embraced the lifeways of the Northern Plains peoples, making a study of their cultures, their symbols, and most notably, their use of an intertribal sign language to facilitate trade. Negotiating with dissident bands of Indians whose lands were threatened by Anglo settlers and commercial interests, he increasingly found himself advocating federal responsibility for tribal welfare and assuming the role of “Indian reformer.”
La Potin makes clear that “reform” was understood within the context of Scott’s own culture, which scaled “civilization” to the so-called Anglo race. Accordingly, Scott promoted the “civilization” of Native Americans through assimilation into Anglo-American society—an approach he continued in his later interactions with the Moro Muslims of the southern Philippines, where he served as a military governor.
Although he eventually rose to the rank of army chief of staff, over time Scott the peacemaker and Indian reformer saw his career stall as Native tribes ceased to be seen as a military threat and military merit was increasingly defined by battlefield experience. From these pages the picture emerges of an uncommon figure in American military history, at once at odds with and defined by his times.
“Through this masterful biography, La Potin offers a prism for understanding the transformation of a nation and an army. Hugh Lenox Scott’s evolution as a soldier and human being mirrored the turmoil and complexities confronting the United States as it embarked on a troubled path toward empire.”—James Leiker, author of The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory
“The career of Major General Hugh Lenox Scott is one of the most remarkable among America’s frontier officers. Armand S. La Potin has written a wonderful biography of this amazing soldier and diplomat.”—John H. Monnett, author of Tell Them We Are Going Home: The Odyssey of the Northern Cheyennes
“Soldier, ethnologist, bureaucrat, and diplomat. Scott was a man of many talents. This is a well-researched and fluently written book that should appeal to anyone interested in the Old Army of the frontier.”—Western Writers of America, The Roundup
“La Potin gives us a good look at the man and his career within his times, and also gives us profiles of many of the people with whom he worked; Native Americans and Anglo-Americans. Hugh Lenox Scott is a very good account of a very unusual soldier.”—Strategy Page