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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: 1803 Va laws regarding freed slaves

Edward Coles was the second governor of Illinois...

He was a slave owner...

Coles was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1786. At the age of twenty-three, Coles inherited a Virginia plantation and its black slaves. Even in that environment, owning slaves troubled his conscience. For six years, Coles was the private secretary of President Madison. During that time, Coles became friends with Nicholas Biddle. Quitting his post as secretary in 1815, he took a trip to Shawneetown and Kaskaskia in luxury, traveling with a horse and buggy, a servant, and a saddle horse. However, Madison called him back for a diplomatic mission to Russia. After returning from Russia, Coles went back to Kaskaskia and attended the constitutional convention until he was sure that he had gotten his message across that Illinois should be a free state. In 1819 Coles went back to Virginia, sold his plantation, and started westward with his slaves. On the trip he told them that they were free men and women, at liberty to stay with him or to go their own way. He did that because he opposed slavery, and he wanted to make Illinois a free state.

Some of those free men and women (former slaves) were kidnapped from Illinois by slave trades taken south and sold.

Ed Adams

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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