|Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York|
|Preceded by||Matthias Burnett Tallmadge|
|Succeeded by||Alfred Conkling|
|Member of the New York State Senate|
|United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York|
|Preceded by||None (position created)|
|Succeeded by||Jacob Sutherland|
|District Attorney for the 4th District of New York|
|Member of the New York State Assembly|
|Born||June 1, 1773|
|Died||August 19, 1825 (aged 52)|
Albany, New York
|Resting place||Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York|
|Relations||Richard Skinner (brother)|
Mark Skinner (nephew)
Skinner was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on June 1, 1773, the son of Timothy Skinner and Susannah Marsh Skinner. His brother Richard Skinner served as Governor of Vermont. His nephew Mark Skinner was a prominent Chicago attorney who served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Roger Skinner studied law and became an attorney, first in Connecticut and later in New York. While practicing in Connecticut, Skinner served as clerk of the Litchfield County Probate Court from 1796 to 1806. Among the students who learned the law from him after his move to New York were Silas Wright and Judge Esek Cowen of Saratoga Springs.
As a resident of Sandy Hill, he was appointed a justice of the peace in 1808, and was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1808 to 1810. He served as District Attorney for the 4th District of New York from 1811 to 1812 and was United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York from 1815 to 1819. He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1817 to 1821, and in 1821 he was a member of the state Council of Appointment.
On November 24, 1819, Skinner received a recess appointment from President James Monroe to the seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York vacated by Matthias Burnett Tallmadge. Monroe formally nominated him on January 3, 1820, and Skinner was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 5, 1820. He received his commission the same day, and served on the bench until his death. Upon ascending the bench, Skinner sold his law office to Benjamin F. Butler, who took over his clients and his pending business.
As a judge, Skinner resided in Albany. He was a lifelong bachelor, and fellow politician Martin Van Buren was a widower, so Skinner and Van Buren shared a house. Van Buren and Skinner were Democratic-Republicans; when Van Buren created the Albany Regency clique to lead New York's Bucktails (the anti-DeWitt Clinton faction that eventually became New York's Democratic Party), Skinner was counted among its members. In an often-recounted incident of political miscalculation, when Clinton's political career seemed at an ebb in 1824, Skinner engineered his removal from the Erie Canal Commission. Clinton had long been identified among the public as the canal's biggest proponent; voter outrage at his removal led to his return to the governorship in the 1824 election. The maneuver against Clinton had been executed without Van Buren's knowledge; initially, Skinner and the Bucktails believed they had brought about Clinton's political death. Later, Van Buren is said to have remarked to Skinner that in politics it's possible to kill someone "too dead".
Death and burial
Skinner died in Albany on August 19, 1825; Van Buren nursed him during his final illness, and was with him when he died. Skinner was buried at State Street Cemetery in Albany. In 1857, he was reinterred in Martin Van Buren's family plot at Albany Rural Cemetery, Section 62, Lot 34. He died without a will, and Butler was appointed to administer his estate.
- History of Litchfield County, Connecticut, p. 148.
- Marsh Genealogy, p. 71.
- History of Litchfield County, Connecticut, p. 289.
- Sketches and Chronicles of the Town of Litchfield, Connecticut, p. 211.
- The Life of Silas Wright, p. 18.
- Our County and Its People, p. 507.
- History of Washington Co., New York, p. 118.
- History of Washington Co., New York, p. 113.
- "Appointments by the President: Roger Skinner", p. 2.
- "Appointments by the President, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate", p. 2.
- "The President has appointed the Hon. Alfred Conkling...", p. 3.
- The Life and Times of Martin Van Buren, p. 197.
- Martin Van Buren and the American Political System, p. 91.
- The Empire State: A History of New York, p. 300.
- "Albany Rural Cemetery Burial Cards, 1791-2011".
- "New York Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999".
- Anderson, George Baker (1899). Our County and Its People: A Descriptive and Biographical Record of Saratoga County, New York. Boston, MA: Boston History Company.
- Cole, Donald B. (1984). Martin Van Buren and the American Political System. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.
- Jenkins, John Stilwell (1847). The Life of Silas Wright: Late Governor of the State of New York. Auburn, NY: Alden & Markham.
- Johnson, Crisfield (1878). History of Washington Co., New York. Everts & Ensign: Philadelphia, PA.
- Kilbourne, Payne Kenyon (1859). Sketches and Chronicles of the Town of Litchfield, Connecticut. Hartford, CT: Case, Lockwood and Company.
- Klein, Milton M. (2001). The Empire State: A History of New York. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- Marsh, Dwight Whitney (1895). Marsh Genealogy: Giving Several Thousand Descendants of John Marsh of Hartford, Ct. 1636-1895. Amherst, MA: Carpenter & Morehouse.
- Van Buren, Martin; Mackenzie, William Lyon (1846). The Life and Times of Martin Van Buren: The Correspondence of His Friends, Family and Pupils. Boston, MA: Cooke & Co.
- History of Litchfield County, Connecticut. Philadelphia, PA: J. W. Lewis & Co. 1881.
- "Albany Rural Cemetery Burial Cards, 1791-2011, entry for Roger Skinner". Ancestry.com. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, LLC. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- "New York Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999, entry for Roger Skinner". Ancestry.com. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, LLC. January 14, 1826. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- "Appointments by the President: Roger Skinner". Washington Gazette. Washington, DC. November 29, 1819.
- "Appointments by the President, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate: Roger Skinner". National Advocate. New York, NY. January 19, 1820.
- "The President has appointed the Hon. Alfred Conkling...". Connecticut Mirror. Hartford, CT. September 8, 1825.
- Roger Skinner at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Roger Skinner at Political Graveyard
- Roger Skinner at Open Jurist
- Roger Skinner at Find a Grave
Matthias B. Tallmadge
| Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
| United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York