Coles, Edward, 1786-1868

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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

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Grigsby, Hugh Blair, 1806-1881. Papers of Hugh Blair Grigsby, 1760-1876. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Madison, James, 1751-1836. Correspondence of James Madison, 1801-1842. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Coles papers, 1814-1857. William & Mary Libraries
referencedIn Cocke, Richard Ivanhoe, 1820-1873,. Miscellaneous Philip St. George Cocke papers [manuscript] 1861-1917, n.d. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Washburne, Elihu, 1816-1887. Papers, 1856-1877. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Documents, 1823, 1825. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Papers, 1859. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Ludlam family. papers, 1830-1908. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Rives, William C. (William Cabell), 1793-1868. Papers of William Cabell Rives, 1824-1842. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Mead family. Papers of the Meade family, 1770-1872. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Edward Coles memoirs, n.d. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Letter: Enniscorthy, [Albemarle County, Va.], 1820 March 26. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Jared Sparks collection of American manuscripts, 1582-1843. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Singleton, Richard. Papers of Richard Singleton, 1845-1865. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Louisa H. Bowen University Archives and Special Collections. [Governor Edward Coles collection]. Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville - Lovejoy Library, Lovejoy Library
creatorOf Madison, James, 1751-1836. Correspondence of James Madison [manuscript], 1801-1842. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Letters, 1815-1842. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Thomas Jefferson letter to James Madison [manuscript], 1809 September 19. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Autograph File, C, 1554-2002. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Carryl, Elizabeth S., 1860-fl. 1912. Letters, April 25 and 29, 1912. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Document: Edwardsville, [Ill.], 1820 Feb. 24. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Edward Coles Papers, 1797-1881 Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special CollectionsManuscripts Division
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Speech, 1826 Jan. 2. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Coles family. Papers, 1762-1887. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Edward Coles papers, 1797-1881. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Illinois. Governor (1822-1826 : Coles). Edward Coles correspondence, 1822-1826. Illinois State Archive
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Letter: Edwardsville, [Ill.], to E[lijah] C. Berry, Vandalia, [Ill.], 1823 July 6. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn John Vaughan papers, 1768 - Circa 1936, 1768 - Circa 1936 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Baylies, Edmund. Meade family papers [manuscript], 1770-1872. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Vol. iii. July, 1773-June, 1774.Nathaniel Middleton, Resident at Lucknow: Correspondence with W. Hastings: 1774-1798.Samuel Middleton, Resident with the Nawab of Oude: Correspondence with W. Hastings: 1773, 1774.Sir John Mcpherson, Member of the Coun... British Library
creatorOf Coles, Edward, 1786-1868. Letter to J. Morrow [manuscript], 1824 August 25. University of Virginia. Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, John, 1735-1826. person
associatedWith Berry, Elijah Conway, 1781-1849, person
associatedWith Biddle, Nicholas, 1786-1844, person
associatedWith Breese, Sidney, 1800-1878. person
associatedWith Cabell, Joseph C. (Joseph Carrington), 1778-1856. person
associatedWith Carryl, Elizabeth S., 1860-fl. 1912. person
associatedWith Clay, Henry, 1777-1852. person
associatedWith Coles family. family
associatedWith Duncan, Joseph, 1794-1844. person
associatedWith Field, Abner, b. 1799. person
associatedWith Forquer, George, 1794-1837. person
associatedWith Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849. person
associatedWith Grigsby, Hugh Blair, 1806-1881. person
associatedWith Illinois and Michigan Canal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Illinois Canal. corporateBody
associatedWith Illinois. Governor (1822-1826 : Coles) corporateBody
associatedWith Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845. person
associatedWith Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. person
associatedWith Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834 person
associatedWith Ludlam family. family
associatedWith Madison, Dolley, 1768-1849, person
associatedWith Madison, James, 1751-1836. person
associatedWith Mead family. family
associatedWith Monroe, James, 1758-1831. person
associatedWith Morrow, Jeremiah, 1771-1852, person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851. person
associatedWith Randall, Henry Stephens, 1811-1876. person
associatedWith Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, 1792-1875. person
associatedWith Rives, William C. (William Cabell), 1793-1868. person
associatedWith Singleton, Richard. person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith State Bank of Illinois. corporateBody
associatedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. person
associatedWith Todd, A., person
associatedWith United States. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Edwardsville Land Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862. person
associatedWith Vaughan, John, 1756-1841 person
associatedWith Wabash Navigation Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Washburne, Elihu, 1816-1887. person
associatedWith Winthrop, Robert C. (Robert Charles), 1809-1894. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Illinois
Virginia
Edwardsville (Ill.)
United States
Illinois
Virginia
Soviet Union
Illinois
Illinois
United States
Illinois
Illinois
Illinois
Illinois
Illinois
Europe
Illinois Territory
Illinois
Europe
Soviet Union
Subject
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
Occupation
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
Function

Person

Birth 1786-12-15

Death 1868-07-07

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