Richard Skinner

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Richard Skinner

Richard Skinner (born May 30, 1778 in Litchfield , Connecticut , † May 23, 1833 in Manchester , Vermont ) was an American politician, lawyer, congressman and governor of the US state of Vermont.

Richard Skinner was born in Connecticut and came from the state that would produce most of the leading politicians in his younger neighbor, Vermont, in its first four decades.

Legal beginnings

Skinner completed preparatory philosophical studies and graduated from his hometown Litchfield Law School . At the age of 22 he was admitted to the bar in 1800. The young man then moved to his new home, Manchester, Vermont, where he initially worked as a lawyer. But already in the following year he was appointed prosecutor for the local Bennington County . He was to hold this office until 1813.

In 1812 he acted as a defense counsel for the brothers Jesse and Stephen Boorn, who were accused of the murder of their brother-in-law Russell Colvin, and who, like broad public opinion, assumed their guilt, although the testimony of witnesses was contradictory and the body had not been found. Later, the missing Colvin reappeared, which led to a particular judicial scandal , as the alleged perpetrators had already been sentenced to death.

Skinner also worked from 1805 to 1813 as a probate judge for the entire Manchester district .

Political career

In the elections of 1812 he was elected as a member of the Democratic Republicans in the US House of Representatives . Richard Skinner represented the interests of the 5th constituency of his home state in the course of the 13th Congress from March 4, 1813 to March 3, 1815. When a new election was due, he was defeated by his challenger Charles Marsh , a member of the Federalist Party , and returned Vermont to continue practicing in his profession.

Skinner was appointed associate judge at the Vermont Supreme Court that same year , but in 1817 he left the court's office. As a member of the Vermont House of Representatives , he assumed a mandate between 1815 and 1818, where he served as the Chamber's spokesman at the end of his term.

In 1819 he briefly returned to his old post as Bennington County attorney. In the same year he was elected governor of Vermont, which indirectly elected one of the first candidates who was not in any way related to the previously ruling elite. Richard Skinner served as governor from 1820 to 1823 when he was appointed chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court . He held this office until 1828, when he retired from public life.

Skinner was seen as a proponent of a general, thorough and free public education , which was not yet taken for granted in the early 19th century. As a result, he assumed the presidency of the northwest section of the American Educational Society and was one of the trustees of Middlebury College .

Richard Skinner died shortly before the age of 55 in Manchester, Vermont and was buried in the local Dellwood Cemetery.

His only son Mark (* 1813) embarked on a legal career, moving to Illinois in 1836 , where he later also became a district attorney and judge. Mark Skinner was also actively involved in public school education.


  • Walter H. Crockett: Vermonters: A Book of Biographies. Stephen Daye Press, Brattleboro 1931
  • Sherman R. Moulton: The Boorn Mystery / An Episode from the Judicial Annals of Vermont. Vermont Historical Society, 1937.
  • John Spargo: The Return of Russell Colvin, Historical Museum and Art Gallery of Bennington. Vermont 1945.
  • Skinner, Richard . In: James Grant Wilson, John Fiske (Eds.): Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography . tape 5 : Pickering - Sumter . D. Appleton and Company, New York 1888, p. 546 (English, Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).

Web links

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