THE MAN WHO FREED HIS SLAVES
A NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF EDWARD COLES

By Nicholas Gordon
Copyright 1980, 2005. All rights reserved.

Edward Coles is best known as the recipient of a letter from Thomas Jefferson on the subject of slavery. But he is an important figure in his own right for two reasons. First, in an attempt to prove to the world that slaves could be freed successfully, he freed his own slaves and settled them on the frontier in Illinois. Second, as governor of Illinois, he led the successful struggle to prevent Illinois from becoming a slave state. Arguably, had Coles not come to Illinois to free his slaves, Illinois might have become a slave state, changing significantly all that followed.

This narrative was researched in the 1970's and written in 1980. I then put it aside unfinished, coming back to it only in 2005 for the purpose of putting whatever I had on the Web so that others might benefit from the work I had done.

Please direct all email correspondence to coleswebmaster@poemsforfree.com.

Narrative

Chapter 1: The Revelation
Chapter 2: Virginia
Chapter 3: Slavery
Chapter 4: Boyhood
Chapter 5: Waiting
Chapter 6: Rockfish
Chapter 7: A Fateful Encounter
Chapter 8: Washington
Chapter 9: Politics
Chapter 10: Love
Chapter 11: The Tomb of Worldly Happiness
Chapter 12: First Trip to Illinois
Chapter 13: Europe
Chapter 14: Second Trip to Illinois
Chapter 15: The Emancipation
Chapter 16: Illinois
Chapter 17: Settling In
Chapter 18: Citizen Coles
Chapter 19: Governor Coles
Chapter 20: The Struggle in the Legislature
Chapter 21: Secrets
Chapter 22: The Conventionist Campaign
Chapter 23: The Anti-Conventionist Campaign
Chapter 24: The Persecution
Chapter 25: The Result
Chapter 26: The Rest of a Life

Notes

Notes for Chapter 1
Notes for Chapter 2
Notes for Chapter 3
Notes for Chapter 4
Notes for Chapter 5
Notes for Chapter 6
Notes for Chapter 7
Notes for Chapter 8
Notes for Chapter 9
Notes for Chapter 10
Notes for Chapter 11
Notes for Chapter 12
Notes for Chapter 13
Notes for Chapter 14
Notes for Chapter 15
Notes for Chapter 16
Notes for Chapter 17
Notes for Chapter 18
Notes for Chapter 19
Notes for Chapter 20
Notes for Chapter 21
Notes for Chapter 22
Notes for Chapter 23
Notes for Chapter 24
Notes for Chapter 25
Notes for Chapter 26

Sources

Bibliography
A Note on Sources

A Note on the Roberts Coles Collection

Last updated: August 22, 2010

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