Chapter 5

Terms of Use

About Me

Poems for

Stories for

Cruise to

His father had given--William B. Coles, ed., The Coles Family of Virginia, New York, 1931, p. 671. Back

the same in perpetuating--1827 autobiography, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

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. 267-268. Back

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

a 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

The 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

as I 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

on June 25--Almanac Dates, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

He 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. Back

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. Back

Edward Coles

Chapter 5