Military Wiki
William Lloyd Scott
United States Senator
from Virginia

In office
January 3, 1973 – January 1, 1979
Preceded by William B. Spong Jr.
Succeeded by John Warner
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Howard W. Smith
Succeeded by Stanford Parris
Personal details
Born William Lloyd Scott
(1915-07-01)July 1, 1915
Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.
Died February 14, 1997(1997-02-14) (aged 81)
Fairfax Station, Virginia, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ruth Inez Huffman (1915-1998) (m. 1940)[1]
Children 3[2]
Alma mater National University School of Law (now George Washington University Law School)
Profession Attorney
Religion Methodist[3]
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1945
Rank Private
Battles/wars World War II

William Lloyd Scott (July 1, 1915 – February 14, 1997) was an American Republican politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia. He served in both the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate, and was Virginia's first post-Reconstruction Republican Senator.

Early life[]

William L. Scott was born in Williamsburg, Virginia on July 1, 1915.[4] He graduated from high school in St. Albans, West Virginia[5] and began a career with the Government Printing Office.[3] He received an LL.B. from National University School of Law (now George Washington University Law School) in 1938 and an LL.M. in 1939.[6] Scott was admitted to the bar, and was employed as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice until 1966.[7]

Scott served in the United States Army during World War II, enlisting as a private in April 1945, and receiving his discharge later the same year as a result of the end of the war.[8] He was later active in the American Legion.[9]

He engaged in the private practice of law in Fairfax, Virginia from 1961 to 1966. In 1963 and 1965 he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Virginia State Senate.[5] In 1965 he initially appeared to have won, but a recount showed that he had lost by 21 votes.[6]

United States House[]

Scott won the Republican nomination for Virginia's 8th congressional district in 1966.[10] He expected to face 18-term incumbent and House Rules Committee chairman Howard W. Smith, a conservative Democrat, but Smith lost renomination to a more liberal Democrat, State Delegate George Rawlings.[11] With support from conservative Democrats as well as Republicans, Scott handily defeated Rawlings in November.[12] He was easily re-elected twice, and served from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1973.[13]

United States Senate[]

In 1972, Scott won the Republican nomination for the United States Senate and defeated Democratic incumbent William B. Spong Jr. in a close race, making Scott the first Republican Senator from Virginia since Reconstruction.[3] Scott benefited from Richard Nixon's landslide victory in that year's presidential election, with Nixon winning Virginia by almost 38 points and carrying all but one of the state's counties.[14]

Scott served one term, January 3, 1973 to January 1, 1979.[15] He did not run for re-election in 1978, and resigned on January 1, 1979, two days before the end of his term.[15] Scott's resignation enabled the Governor of Virginia to appoint the winner of the 1978 Senate election, John Warner, to fill the vacancy, giving Warner one day of seniority over other Senators who were elected in 1978.[16] During his Congressional service, Scott was criticized for excessive expenses incurred during his fact-finding trips abroad.[17]

Retirement and death[]

In retirement Scott resided in Fairfax Station, Virginia. In his later years he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and resided in a Fairfax nursing center.[18] Scott died in Fairfax on February 14, 1997, and was interred at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax.[18]


Scott was frequently cited as an example of racism in Congress, and some of Scott's words and actions were reported in the media. At the time he was in office, Scott's views on race were considered mainstream in much of Virginia, where politics had long been dominated by the segregationist Byrd Organization.[19] When criticizing the implementation of the Post Office's ZIP Code program, Scott was quoted as saying "the only reason we need zip codes is because n*****s can't read."[20]

In addition, his name appeared in an exposé of Congressional staff hiring practices as one of the members who had given "No Blacks" and other similar instructions to the Capitol Hill Placement Bureau.[21] Scott was also alleged to have displayed anti-semitism while in Congress. One news report indicated that during a job interview, Scott was told that the applicant was Jewish, and he replied "Oh, I've got too many of them here now to hire you."[22]

"Dumbest Member of Congress"[]

A 1974 article in New Times by Nina Totenberg reported that Scott had been ranked at the top of the list of "The Ten Dumbest Members of Congress".[23]

Scott's critics cited many examples to support this claim. While being briefed about the military capabilities of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Scott reportedly confused missile silos for grain silos and said "Wait a minute! I'm not interested in agriculture. I want the military stuff."[24] In addition, 1975 press accounts of a trip he took to the Middle East stated that Scott was a "diplomat's nightmare" who mistook the Suez Canal for the Persian Gulf, refused to enter a mosque because it wasn't "a Christian building", and asked Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "What is this Gaza stuff? I have never understood that."[25] Scott held a press conference to deny the claims of the New Times story, which had the effect of giving the allegation wider circulation and enhanced credibility.[26]

In 2000 and afterwards, journalist Harry Stein, who had provided much of the background information to Totenberg based on an earlier Stein article for another publication called The Private Faces of Bill Scott, said the articles had been a "vicious hatchet job", and agreed with Scott's assessment at the time that the articles were written by "some left-wing kids from Richmond with an agenda." Stein went on to say that while Scott was a tempting target—roundly disliked by his colleagues and his staff, and widely regarded as incompetent—Stein and his colleagues had done Scott "a disservice" for which Stein expressed regret.[27][28] Stein was noted for his liberal political point of view early in his career, but over time his politics became more conservative.[29]


  1. The National Rural Letter Carrier. 66. Alexandria, VA: National Rural Letter Carrier Association. 1967. p. 89. 
  2. The National Rural Letter Carriers
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Virginia State Senate Joint Resolution No. 405, On the Death of Senator William L. Scott, February 20, 1997
  4. The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. 3. New Providence, NJ: Martindale, LLC. 1963. p. 6202. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "St. Albans Woman's Brother: Virginia Republican Wins; Democrat Happy". Charleston Daily Mail. November 9, 1966. p. 10. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Biographies of Members of Congress: William L. Scott". Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, Incorporated. 1967. p. 2949. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  7. "Biography: William L. Scott". Richmond: Virginia Historical Society. 1981. p. 200. 
  8. William L. Scott at U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, National Archives and Records Administration
  9. Biography, William L. Scott. Guide to the William Lloyd Scott papers, 1967-1979. George Mason University Libraries.
  10. "Republicans Pick Scott as Nominee for Seat Now Held by Howard Smith". Danville, VA. June 5, 1966. p. 3. 
  11. "Amith Labeled 'Great Man' by Colleague". Danville, VA. July 14, 1966. p. 1. 
  12. "State Republicans Hike House Seats to Four". Danville, VA. November 9, 1966. p. 1. 
  13. "Congressional Biography, William Lloyd Scott". U.S. Senate Historical Office. 
  14. "Scott Defeats Spong as State Backs Nixon". November 8, 1972. p. 1. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 "SCOTT, William Lloyd - Biographical Information". Retrieved 11 October 2018. 
  16. John William Warner at Congressional Biographical Directory
  17. Tierney, John (27 November 1978). "Senate Losing One of a Kind". The Milwaukee Journal.,6336755. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "William Scott, 81, Congressman Symbolizing G.O.P. Rise in South". The New York Times. 1997-02-17. Retrieved 27 September 2020. 
  19. Grymes, Charles A. (2017). "The Byrd Organization". Fairfax, VA: Virginia Places. 
  20. Felton, Bruce; Fowler, Mark (1985). Felton & Fowler's Best, Worst, and Most Unusual. Random House Value Publishing. p. 115. ISBN 9780517462973. 
  21. "Politics: Exposé; "No Blacks" Wanted by Congressmen". Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co.. September 12, 1974. p. 23. 
  22. Hirschorn, Michael (February 1, 1989). "Popsicles and Nutty Buddies". New York: Spy Publishing Partners. p. 87. 
  23. Totenberg, Nina (1974). "The Ten Dumbest Members of Congress". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  24. Lee, Laura (2008). Schadenfreude, Baby!. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-1-59921-235-7. 
  25. "Senator denies Faux Pas on Mideast Trip". Miami News. October 1, 1975. p. 2A.,360399. 
  26. "Nina Totenberg", Current Biography Yearbook, 1996, pages 575–579.
  27. Stein, Harry (Spring 2008). "How the Press Got Political". City Journal. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  28. Brumfield, Dale M. (30 July 2013). Richmond Independent Press: A History of the Underground Zine Scene. Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-60949-839-9. 
  29. White, Diane (October 2, 2000). "Viewing A Portrait Of Harry Stein, From Left To Right". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. 

External links[]

Party political offices
Preceded by
James P. Ould Jr.
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Virginia
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Richard D. Obenshain
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Howard W. Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th congressional district

January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1973
Succeeded by
Stanford E. Parris
United States Senate
Preceded by
William B. Spong Jr.
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Virginia
January 3, 1973 – January 1, 1979
Served alongside: Harry F. Byrd, Jr.
Succeeded by
John W. Warner

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