Edward Coles is best known as the recipient of a letter from Thomas Jefferson on the subject of slavery. But he is an important figure in his own right for two reasons. First, in an attempt to prove to the world that slaves could be freed successfully, he freed his own slaves and settled them on the frontier in Illinois. Second, as governor of Illinois, he led the successful struggle to prevent Illinois from becoming a slave state. Arguably, had Coles not come to Illinois to free his slaves, Illinois might have become a slave state, changing significantly all that followed.
This narrative was researched in the 1970's and written in 1980. I then put it aside unfinished, coming back to it only in 2005 for the purpose of putting whatever I had on the Web so that others might benefit from the work I had done.
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