Finding Aaron

Becoming a Detective

A descendent has traced her lineage to an enslaved man named Aaron and is trying to piece together his story. You have agreed to help her. She has provided a series of documents that follow. It is your job to determine the type of evidence included within this file, the credibility of each piece of evidence and how the evidence fits together. Finally, you will be asked to come up with a plausible explanation of what happened to Aaron between December, 1767 and January, 1771 and how you came to that particular conclusion.


Investigating the Evidence


Searching for Clues

Please answer the following questions about each document or download the formatted Case File (Word Format | PDF Format).

  1. What type of documents are these? Who wrote the documents? To whom were the documents written?
  2. When was each document written? Provide a summary of each document.
  3. What questions did you ask yourself as you were reading through the ads?
  4. Why do you think the documents were written?
  5. Put together a description of Aaron based on the texts. Cite with quotation marks when using the direct text.
  6. Who was Henry Randolph? John Randolph? Given the evidence and prior knowledge, make your best estimate and explain how you came to that conclusion.
  7. What do you think happened to Aaron? Why? What are these conclusions based upon?
  8. What role did the courts play in this case?
  9. Based on this investigation and what you know about the process of history, what are some difficulties historians face in reconstructing history?



Cracking the Case

Based on your analysis of the eight documents and citing evidence to support your answer, please write a plausible explanation of what happened to Aaron between December, 1767 and January, 1771. Indicate whether you were satisfied with the evidence and list any additional questions that have been left unanswered through your investigation.