Edward Coles Photo

Edward Coles

Born: Dec 15, 1786

Death: Jul 7, 1868

Birthplace: Albemarle County

Nationality: United States

Edward Coles

Date of Birth : Dec 15, 1786
Date of Death : Jul 7, 1868
Birth Place : Albemarle County

Edward Coles was the second Governor of Illinois. From an old Virginia family, as a young man Coles was a neighbor and associate of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as secretary to president James Madison. An anti-slavery advocate throughout his adult life, Coles inherited a plantation and slaves but eventually left Virginia for the Illinois Territory in order to set his slaves free. He manumitted his slaves in 1819, and twice led political campaigns that prevented the legitimization of slavery in the new state of Illinois. Coles corresponded with and advised both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to free their slaves, and in his final years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania helped shape early historians' views of the presidents' republican ideals.


  • Sally Roberts
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