Chapter 4

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I board with--Edward Coles to John Coles II, November 21, 1806, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

at Enniscorthy on December 15, 1786--William B. Coles, ed., The Coles Family of Virginia, New York, 1931, p. 113. See also Edward Coles to Senator Flagg, 1861, in the Journal of the Illinois Historical Society, no. 3 (1910), 59-64. Back

in family letters--John Coles II to Travis Tucker, March 2, 1794; John Coles II to Rebecca Tucker, April 18, 1798; John Coles II to Rebecca Tucker, October 30, 1798; all in the Roberts Coles Collection. Back

two other passing references--John Coles II to Rebecca Tucker, October 19, 1797; John Coles II to Rebecca Tucker, August 7, 1798; both in the Roberts Coles Collection. Back

Helen Skipwith Coles describes him--Helen Skipwith Coles to Selina Skipwith, September 4, 1811, Roberts Coles Collection. Back

Coles received his early education--1863 autobiography, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The sketch of Nicholas is taken from the Dictionary of American Biography and from Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, Charlottesville, 1901, pp. 289-291. The only White mentioned in Woods' local history who lived near Dyer's store is a Garret White, who came to the county around the year 1800, acquired an estate of two thousand acres, and was appointed magistrate in 1806. Another White who lived in the county, John White, apparently made provision in his will for the emancipation of all of his slaves and their removal to a free state (Woods, p. 343). But there is no evidence that the actions of this White had any influence on Coles. Back

one fundamentalist manuscript--Mentioned in the notes for the last chapter, in the Princeton University Library. Back

The spirit of skepticism--Isaac A. Coles to Henry St. George Tucker, July 20, 1799, William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, vol. 4 (1895-1896) 105-108. Back

I have been very much concerned--Edward Coles to John Coles II, September 2, 1805, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

the police of the College--Edward Coles to John Coles II, December 6, 1805, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

A parcel of damned fools--Isaac Coles to Henry St. George Tucker, July 20, 1799, William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, vol. 4 (1895-1896) 105-108. Back

A scene of dissipation--W. Radford to Andrew Reid, December 26, 1805, William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, vol. 8 (1899-1900) 213-227. Back

The other evening--Isaac Coles to David Watson, March 21, 1798, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XXX (1922) 240-242. See Virginius Dabney, Virginia: The New Dominion, Garden City, 1972, p. 247, for a discussion of other student disturbances. There was a serious riot at William and Mary in 1808, which, one correspondent claims, was started by students who had been expelled from Princeton for participating in riots there--evidence that student disturbances were a national rather than merely regional phenomenon. See Albert Allmond to Andrew Reid, April 15, 1808, William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, vol. 8 (1899-1900) 221-222. A discussion of the relationship between college rioting and Southern violence generally can be found in Dickson D. Bruce, Jr., Violence and Culture in the Antebellum South, Austin, 1979, pp. 62-64. Back

According to a local historian--Herbert Bradshaw, History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, Richmond, 1955, p. 151. Back

where he bloomed--In a letter to his friend Hawkins (March 1, 1809, Princeton University Library), Coles compares his days at William and Mary to the Garden of Eden. Back

Edward entered Hampden-Sydney--"Almanac Dates," a manuscript in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania from which all of the dates of Edward's travels to and from school are taken. In January 1803 Coles' mother began noting the dates of significant family events in her almanac. These dates were compiled by Coles after his mother's death, and his summary of them can be found among the manuscripts in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. These dates are generally reliable. For instance, they state that Edward left for "Prince Edward" on January 25, 1803 (Hampden-Sydney College is in Prince Edward County and was originally called Prince Edward Academy). The 1863 autobiography says, on the other hand, that Coles entered Hampden-Sydney in the spring of 1804. But there is in the private collection of Roberts Coles a receipt made out to Isaac Coles for Edward's tuition, room rent, and deposit, signed by John H. Rice, a tutor at Hampden-Sydney at the time, and dated January 27, 1803, presumably the day Edward arrived. Thus the Almanac Dates are corroborated by other evidence, as is generally the case. Edward seems to have injured his leg sometime late in 1803, as his father is unsure whether he is well enough to attend school in the winter of 1804 (John Coles II to Rebecca Tucker, February 7, 1804, Roberts Coles Collection). Edward returned to school after a lengthy absence on June 8, 1804 (Almanac Dates), a date which corresponds to Coles' recollection in the 1863 autobiography, perhaps accounting for his error. Back

breaking his ankle--The 1863 autobiography states that E.C. broke his leg whilst wrestling with Beverly Tucker, son of St. George Tucker on January 1, 1806 (Coles wrote "1805," but this is clearly an error). The Almanac Dates show that Edward's brother Tucker left Enniscorthy for Williamsburg on March 29, 1806, and returned with Edward, who was perhaps injured too seriously to travel alone, on April 10. For another seven months Edward recuperated at Enniscorthy, returning to Williamsburg in early November after having missed about ten months of school. Apparently even after he had returned there was some concern about his ankle, as is evidenced in the letters exchanged between him and his father at the time. In the fall term of 1806 Coles struggled, apparently successfully, to catch up on the work he had missed. It was during this term that he took Bishop Madison's course in political philosophy. Back

Why Edward--John Coles II and Eliza Coles to Edward Coles, April 1, 1807, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

a passion which--Edward Coles to William Madison, December 23, 1807, Princeton University Library. Back

Miss Breckenridge is--Isaac Coles to John Coles III, January 8, 1810, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

But to speak out candidly--Edward Coles to Rebecca Coles, February 7, 1816, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

a man for whom--Edward Coles to William Madison, December 23, 1807, Princeton University Library. Back

our virtuous and Godlike Madison--Edward Coles to Mr. Campbell, [January] 12, 1808, Princeton University Library. Back

in the vicinity of Montpelier--The Almanac Dates indicate that Coles did take the planned trip across the Blue Ridge in the summer of 1808, but whether with or without Madison is unclear. Then, the Almanac Dates tell us, Coles went to see "Mr. Madison" on November 3, 1808, returning November 18. On February 19, 1809, he went to "Col. Madison's," returning on February 25 "from Orange," from which we may infer that Madison lived in Orange County. Since in the letter to Mr. Hawkins of March 1, 1809 referred to above Coles talks about his visit to John Madison two weeks earlier, we can be fairly sure that John Madison either was or lived with "Col. Madison" in the county of Orange. In the letter to William Madison referred to above Coles writes that he will be going to Charlottesville on business and will certainly call on Madison's father, "which is in the direct road to Warren," which runs across Orange County.

Orange County is also the location of Montpelier, the seat of James Madison, the newly-elected President of the United States. But there are no relations of James Madison in Orange County who have sons named William and John. A George Madison, cousin of James Madison and later governor of Kentucky, had sons named William and John who may have been the right ages, but he lived in Kentucky at the time, not in Orange County, Virginia. See William Everett Brockman, Orange County (Va.) Families and Their Marriages, Minneapolis, 1949; and "Gov. George Madison," Kentucky State Historical Society Register, vol. 1, no. 3 (September 1903) 23.

On his last visit in February 1809 Coles found John Madison near death with "dropsy," a generic term for diseases that involved a swelling of body tissues with fluid. Probably the disease proved fatal since there is no mention of John Madison either in the Almanac Dates or in Coles' correspondence after his letter to Hawkins describing that visit. Back

Edward Coles

Chapter 4