His father had given--William B. Coles, ed.,
The Coles Family of Virginia, New York, 1931, p. 671. Back
same in perpetuating--1827 autobiography, Historical Society of
passed a law--Robert McColley, Slavery and
Jeffersonian Virginia, Urbana, 1964, p. 162. The disenchantment of
many Virginians with manumission in the early nineteenth century may have
been influenced as much by economic factors as by a growing fear of the
free black population. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 opened up
the Southwest to large-scale cotton production, providing new markets for
the Virginia slave trade and thus increasing the value of Virginia slaves.
See Louis Morton, Robert Carter of Nomini Hall: A Virginian Tobacco
Planter of the Eighteenth Century, Williamsburg, 1941, pp.
his cousin Isaac H. Coles--Isaac H. Coles to
Tucker Coles, December 23, 1806, Roberts Coles Collection. Isaac H. Coles
was the son of Edward's uncle Walter (a brother of Edward's father). There
were three cousins named Isaac Coles in the third generation of the Coles
family in Virginia: Isaac H. Coles, son of Edward's uncle Walter; Isaac A.
Coles, Edward's brother; and Isaac Coles, son of Edward's uncle Isaac.
Since all three attended William and Mary College at the same time, a way
had to be found to tell one from the other, and therefore the son of
Walter tood the middle initial "H" for his home county, Halifax County;
Edward's brother took the middle initial "A" for Albemarle County; and the
third Isaac Coles was the one with no middle initial at all.
Tucker broke his leg--John Coles II to Edward
Coles, February 13, 1807, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back
late frost--John Coles II to Edward Coles, April 1, 1807, Historical
Society of Pennsylvania. The Almanac Dates record a deep snow on March 19.
The April 1 letter also describes the delivery of the new carriage. Back
corn crop--John Coles II to Edward Coles, April 30, 1807, Historical
Society of Pennsylvania. This letter also mentions the trip to the races.
It is clear from the letter that Edward's father at this point expects him
to remain at school until July. Back
expect--John Coles II to Edward Coles, June 10, 1807, Historical
Society of Pennsylvania. E.B. Washburne, an early biographer of Coles,
erroneously attributes Coles' leaving William and Mary before the final
examination to the fact that his broken ankle had gotten him behind in his
studies (in Clarence Alvord, Governor Edward Coles, Illinois
Historical Society Library, 1920, p. 18). But it is clear from the
correspondence between Coles and his father that Coles had been able to
catch up on the missed work, and that it was only his father's request
that he return early that prevented Coles from graduating with his class.
The 1863 autobiography erroneously states that Coles finished his
collegiate course in July 1807. Back
25--Almanac Dates, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back
writes to Campbell--Edward Coles to Mr. Campbell, [January] 12, 1808,
Princeton University Library. Although the month in which this letter was
written is not indicated, I assume it was January for three reasons: (1)
Coles suggests a journey to the other side of the Blue Ridge that summer,
which seems to be reasonably far in the future; (2) Coles' father died in
late January 1808, yet Coles neither mentions his father's death nor
thanks Campbell for his condolences; (3) in this letter Coles mentions the
heavy January rains referred to in the next paragraph. Back
In December 1807--Edward Coles to William
Madison, December 23, 1807, Princeton University Library. Back
On January 27, 1808--The dates for these
events are taken from Tucker Coles to John Coles III, February 6, 1808,
the Roberts Coles Collection. They are corroborated by the Almanac Dates.
On February 16--Almanac Dates, Historical
Society of Pennsylvania. Back
Again on that day--In the 1844 autobiography
Coles says that he told his family of his intentions "as soon as my Father
died." The 1827 autobiography sets the time as "immediately on my Father's
death." I assume, however, that Coles waited at least until the day of the
funeral, since he describes a lengthy discussion with his family on the
day of his announcement, and until February 16 the family was scattered.