planned to retire--Isaac Coles to William Lewis, April 2, 1807; Isaac Coles to Dr. Burwell, December 30, 1808; Isaac Coles to Joseph Cabell, [?] 1808; all in the Roberts Coles Collection. Back

But he was persuaded--Isaac Coles to Rebecca Coles, [?] 1809, Roberts Coles Collection. In this letter Isaac says that Jefferson has put his name in nomination for the command of the Virginia Dragoons. Back

On March 24, 1809--The dates of his departure and return are given in the Almanac Dates, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. While on board the Constitution on the way to France, Isaac wrote to a friend that he must quit the position of Presidential secretary soon as it will unfit him for the life he was some day destined to lead, presumably that of a farmer (Isaac Coles to Lt. William Lewis, April 2, 1809, Roberts Coles Collection). Back

he wrote to Madison--Isaac Coles to James Madison, September 1809, Roberts Coles Collection. Back

according to Isaac--Isaac Coles to Richard Rush, December 1809, Roberts Coles Collection. Back

What Isaac did--Reference to this incident can be found in Sir George Jackson, The Bath Archives: A Further Selection from the Diaries and Letters of Sir George Jackson, ed. Lady Jackson, London, 1873, p. 79. An article in the Federal Republican and Commercial Gazette (Baltimore, MD) on November 29, 1809, describes the incident in terms surprisingly sympathetic to Isaac: We are grieved to relate that, yesterday, in the Capitol, Capt. Coles, the President's Secretary, conceiving himself greatly and unjustly, and unnecessarily abused by Mr. Roger Nelson, a member of the house of representatives of the U.S., in a late trial in which Capt. Coles was a party, and Mr. Nelson advocate for the opposite party, called on him for some explanation; which was refused; and insult and contempt offered instead of reparation or even discussion: on which Capt. Coles gave said Nelson, with a horse-whip, what he deemed a proper chastisement. The intervention of a Senator, and other gentlemen standing near, prevented any excess of castigation. Back

a breach of--Congress of the United States, Debates and Proceedings, House of Representatives, December 29, 1809. Back

that if I could have supposed--Ibid. See also Isaac Coles to John Taylor, November 29, 1809, Roberts Coles Collection, which contains the same text. Back

Isaac was forced to resign--In a letter to Cabell, Isaac writes that he wanted to resign his position immediately but that Madison would not hear of it (Isaac Coles to Joseph Cabell, December 23, 1809, University of Virginia Library). He did, however, write Madison that he would never again be the bearer of a message to the House, and that he intended to resign as soon as the committee of inquiry made its report (Isaac Coles to James Madison, December 29, 1809, Chicago Historical Society). The report was issued the same day, finding that Isaac was guilty of a breach of the privileges of the House, upon which Isaac resigned. Back

The date of Isaac's resignation--Since Isaac told both Madison and Cabell that he planned to resign once the committee had issued its report, we can assume that he resigned on either December 29 (the day the report was issued) or December 30. On January 8, 1810, Coles wrote Madison that he had received Isaac's letter offering the position of secretary to him "two or three days ago," or January 5 or 6 (Edward Coles to James Madison, January 8, 1810, Historical Society of Pennsylvania). That would mean that the letter was probably sent December 31 or January 1. Back

What has he decided--Isaac Coles to John Coles III, January 8, 1810, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

My own conscious inability--Edward Coles to James Madison, January 8, 1810, Princeton University Library. Back

Monroe was in political eclipse--This recital of events in Monroe's career can be found in almost any biography of Madison or Monroe. I have followed most closely the account in William P. Cresson's James Monroe, Chapel Hill, 1946, pp. 218-243. Back

What his thoughts were--Monroe was probably familiar with Coles' desire to free his slaves because he provided Coles with a letter of introduction for his trip to Kentucky (James Monroe to Edward Coles, August 13, 1809, Princeton University Library). Back

With these warm feelings--1844 autobiography, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Back

enticed by the enjoyments--Ibid. Back

Edward Coles

Chapter 7