Coles, Edward, 1786-1868

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1786-12-15
Death 1868-07-07

Biographical notes:

Edward Coles was born on December 15, 1786 into one of the oldest Virginia families. When he inherited his family's estate in 1808, Coles felt somewhat conflicted about slavery. After serving as President James Madison's private secretary from 1809-1815, Coles purchased land in Illinois with the intention of eventually moving his estate west. In 1816 Madison sent Coles to Russia for diplomatic purposes, and Coles spent the next two years traveling in Europe. When he returned to the United States, Coles arranged to move to Illinois, which had adopted an anti-slavery stance. On the way to his new home, Coles told his assembled slaves that they were free, giving each documents of emancipation and each family 160 acres of land. In 1822, Coles was elected governor of Illinois in a tightly contested and somewhat controversial election. For the next two years, the slavery debate remained in the forefront, and in 1824 the state held a referendum. Coles, the only anti-slavery elected official in the Illinois government devoted himself to the referendum, and, after record voter turn-out, the anti-slavery movement won. Never truly popular in mid-western society, Coles retired to his farm in Edwardsville after his term as governor, and then eventually moved to Philadelphia in 1832. Coles lived to be 82 years old, long enough to see the Emancipation Proclamation. He passed away on July 7, 1868 in Philadelphia.

From the guide to the Edward Coles Papers, 1797-1881, (Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections)

2nd Illinois governor, 1822-1826; abolitionist; private secretary to James Madison, 1809-1815.

From the description of Letters, 1815-1842. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28397988

From the description of Letter: Enniscorthy, [Albemarle County, Va.], 1820 March 26. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28397996

From the description of Document: Edwardsville, [Ill.], 1820 Feb. 24. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28398010

From the description of Papers, 1859. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28397997

From the description of Speech, 1826 Jan. 2. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28398000

From the description of Letter: Edwardsville, [Ill.], to E[lijah] C. Berry, Vandalia, [Ill.], 1823 July 6. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28397992

2nd Illinois governor, 1822-1826; abolitionist; private secretary for James Madison, 1809-1815.

From the description of Documents, 1823, 1825. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 28398008

Edward Coles was born in Albemarle County, Va. 15 December 1786. He attended Hampden-Sydney College and the College of William and Mary. He was private secretary to James Madison. He emancipated his slaves upon his removal to Illinois. Coles was elected governor of Illinois. He moved to Philadelphia and died in 1868.

From the description of Coles papers, 1814-1857. (College of William & Mary). WorldCat record id: 22669932

Governor of Illinois.

From the description of Letter to J. Morrow [manuscript], 1824 August 25. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647872649

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Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w68g8jmv
Ark ID:
w68g8jmv
SNAC ID:
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Subjects:

  • Governor
  • Land grants
  • Governors--19th century
  • Taxation
  • Slavery--United States--History--Sources
  • Blacks--History
  • Slavery--Illinois--History--Sources
  • Antislavery movements
  • Salt mines and mining
  • School lands
  • Slaves--Emancipation
  • Public lands
  • American history/Early national
  • Banks and banking
  • Slavery--Virginia--History--Sources
  • Slaves--Emancipation--United States
  • Slavery--History--Sources
  • Slavery--History--19th century

Occupations:

  • Abolitionists--United States
  • Presidents--19th century.--United States
  • Presidents--Wives--19th century.--United States
  • Presidents--United States--19th century
  • Presidents--United States--Wives--19th century

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)
  • Edwardsville (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Virginia (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • Illinois Territory (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)