Death of an Overseer

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Murder Pages: 4 (1685 words) Published: October 30, 2010
Historical Methods
Death of an Overseer

Who killed Duncan Skinner and why?

The murder of Duncan Skinner is a complex event and is difficult to fully understand. So many people were involved or had questionable motives that it becomes a large web of interactions to sift through. And so with all the evidence presented, here is my best interpretation of what may have happened. The three slaves Henderson, Anderson, and Reuben murdered Duncan Skinner, although many other slaves were involved in one way or another. John McCallen had an unusual relationship with the slaves but did not orchestrate the murder plot. Conclusions such as this are hard to come to with an absolute certainty because of the nature of the information provided. We know what conclusion was made at the time, but even with the body of evidence and sources of information, it is impossible to know what was going through the slaves minds, or the overseer, or any of the planters involved in the investigation. But since it is impossible to interview anyone involved, this is the best that can be done.

It became apparent to me that Duncan Skinner's death was in fact a murder that was attempted to be covered up. This is because of the unlikely belongings he had with him, which did not match his usual routine if he had in fact been out hunting. The blood found inside of his cabin solidifies this idea. Now on to the killers. After some questioning it is found by Alexander Farrar that Henderson, Anderson, and Reuben are the three slaves that went to Skinner's cabin to actually commit the murder. This was provided by several different slaves, with Reuben actually confessing when approached. Now it appears they were tied up when questioned but the way the stories match indicates that their guilt is at least believable. The scene goes basically as follows. The three slaves go to Duncan Skinner's cabin during early morning hours, most likely everyone else was still asleep. After a knock on the door,...
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