NOTES FOR CHAPTER 19
He was by all accounts pro-slavery--Clarence Alvord, Governor Edward Coles, Illinois Historical Society Library, 1920, p. 49; John Reynolds, My Own Times, Chicago, 1879, p. 158; Theodore Pease, The Frontier State, Springfield, Illinois, 1918, p. 74; and William H. Brown, An Historical Sketch of the Early Movement in Illinois for the Legalization of Slavery, Chicago, 1876, p. 10. Back
The connection with Crawford--Ironically, Crawford was thought to be the leader of a conspiracy to make the former northwest territories slave states in order to increase his chances of being elected president. See Max Gordon, The Slavery Conflict on the Illinois Frontier, M.A. Thesis, Columbia University, 1961, pp. 77-78.
Warren's continued identification of Coles as Crawford's tool--Warren later retracted his view of Coles as a lackey of Crawford. On August 31, 1822, bemoaning Coles' victory in the gubernatorial election, he writes in the Spectator, we do believe that the circumstance of [Coles'] election is degrading to the character of the state. The President can no longer hesitate, when he may wish to get rid of a useless lackey, to appoint him to a fat office in Illinois. Mr. Crawford, too, no doubt, will console himself for the abortion of his interference in our congressional election, in the success of Mr. Coles, which will enable him more effectually to intrigue for his own promotion. But in the next issue of the Spectator, Sept. 7, 1822, he says that in his latest remarks on Coles he was influenced by the conviction, reached because of some unspecified events which transpired a day or two previous to the Fourth of July celebration of 1819, that Coles was a warm partisan of Crawford. He has since been told by a person he trusts that Coles disapproved most strongly of Crawford's offer of the position of bank examiner to Thomas, and of Thomas' acceptance of it. Had he known of this earlier, Warren writes, his remarks on Coles would not have been what they were.
On the same day, Sept. 7, 1822, the Intelligencer carried
an editorial which attempts to put the Crawford issue to rest.
Of course, the political contradiction stated here--that Coles' friends were enemies of the man Coles supported for the Presidency, and his friends were Coles' enemies--does much to explain why Coles' political career in Illinois went into eclipse once the issue of slavery was settled. Back
half a dozen FREE negroes--Warren reasoned that once Coles' slaves crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania, they were free. Thus Coles emancipated a few free negroes, keeping "legal" title to others who actually no longer belonged to him. Back
particularly abusive account of Coles--We have no other sources of information by which to make Mr. Coles better known, Warren writes, than such as have been furnished by himself. These are confined to court anecdotes, and incidents necessarily connected with them, which occurred in Mr. Madison's family during his administration; and before Mr. Coles became a candidate, they were his constant theme, by day and by night. If he happened to speak on any other subject, it was a digression. He would frequently, at Wiggins', keep a bar-room audience in profound silence, from seven o'clock in the evening until two in the morning . . . Back
he was certainly not in the picture--We know that he was not in the picture as late as February 6, 1822, when Thomas Reynolds, Jr. wrote to Edwards (see note above). So Warren's explanation of his conduct is clearly inaccurate. Back
Washburne adds--Alvord, p. 51. Washburne, like many another historian, gets carried away enough by his theories to distort his data. It will have been seen, therefore, he writes, that Mr. Coles was elected Governor by a large minority of the whole vote cast, and through a division of the pro-slavery men. At this same election, and where there was no such division, the pro-slavery men elected their candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Adophus Hubbard, by a decided majority . . . Yet in fact Hubbard won by fewer votes than Coles (72), and gained office through a division of a majority anti-slavery vote. In his 1863 autobiography Coles erroneously states that there were only two candidates for the office of Lieutenant Governor. Back