Edward Coles



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Freedom Boat

Detail from Mural of Coles Freeing His Slaves

This is a picture I took in 2007 of "Future Governor Edward Coles Freeing His Slaves While Enroute to Illinois 1819."

More information about this mural is available at www.ilstatehouse.com/1st_floor.htm, the unofficial website of the Illnois Statehouse.





Freedom Spot

Sunrise On The Ohio Where Coles Freed His Slaves

The Ohio River
where Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia meet.

© 2007 SMB




Dedication 2015
To Helen and Arnold Hoffman

Married lawyers, colleagues, family friends; heard about Edward Coles over dinner at Scaletta Restaurant in Manhattan around 2005 as my father and I talked about writing Slave Nation.

Helen, my self-proclaimed "Dutch Mother" after my mother passed-away, insisted I consider writing a separate book about Edward Coles, in part to remind Republicans about the roots of their party.

Becoming Edward Coles - fascinating.

Thanks, Helen.

See FAQ for more.






Edward Coles

Son, Plantation Inheritor, Presidential Personal Secretary, Traveler, Diplomat, Emancipator, Conservative Governor (Conserving Freedom),1 Abolitionist Republican

An Outline of Edward Coles' Life

  • Note 1, unless you have specified your own preferences in your own browser:
  • Dateline items in Red are general historic events.
  • Dateline items in Columbia Blue were added from Eric Foner's history class timelines.
  • Dateline items in regular font are specifically related to Edward Coles.
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  • Note 2: Wikipedia references are not authoritative because anyone can write and edit Wikipedia entries.
    Wikipedia is a place to start.
  • Note 3: References to "The Radical Reader" refer to authoritative primary sources in The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition, edited by Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John McMillian, Forward by Eric Foner (The New Press, 2003).

    16th Century

  • 1561, January 22: Birth of Sir Francis Bacon.
  • 17th Century

  • 1609: "The Virginia Colony," a government report by Sir Francis Bacon.
  • 1610: The Tresurer and the Companye of Adventurers and planter of the Cittye of London and Bristoll for the Collonye or plantacon in Newfoundland.

    The first charter from the King to colonize North America, granted to Sir Francis Bacon and his associates.

    Bacon was in government and the private sector. However, it was his writings that were the pre-eminent part of his legacy. Were it not for his philosophy and outlook, we might not be aware of his work in government and business. And, without his work in the public arena, we might not be as aware of his writing. See, February 15, 1789, Thomas Jefferson. (Use back button to return.)

  • 1619: First African slaves arrive in Jamestown, Virginia.
  • 1632, August 29: Birth of John Locke.
  • 1640: 'Long Parliament' is seated in Westminster, beginning opposition to King Charles I.
  • 1641: English Civil War/English Revolution breaks out between Parliament and the king.
  • 1645: Parliament orders the creation of the 'New Model Army' under Oliver Cromwell.
  • 1647: Leveller movement, calling for sovereignty of male landholders, frequent elections, religious toleration and broad transformations in English society, publishes the Agreement of the People manifestos.
  • 1648: Leaders of the New Model Army purge Parliament of opposition members, leaving the 'Rump Parliament'.
  • 1649: Regiments of New Model Army sympathetic to Levellers mutiny, revolt crushed by the conservative army commanders and the Rump Parliament.
  • 1649: Cromwell invades Ireland, crushes independence movement.
  • 1653-58: Cromwell rules as Lord Protector of the English Commonwealth.
  • 1660: Charles II placed on throne ending political turmoil and the 'English Revolution'.
  • 1660s: Slave codes in many colonies formalize the status of slavery.
  • 1676: Bacon's rebellion

    According to the National Park Service, Bacon's rebellion took place in "Historic Jamestowne," also known as Jamestown.

    Spelling and pronunciation may differ, yet there is agreement that (1) what happened amounted to rebellion amongst the British and (2) it occurred in Virginia. Though, I suppose, writers in the future, including those who might not recognize the European concept of "Virginia," could view it differently.

    The history of Bacon's Rebellion is the history of history.

    At one time, historians wrote about Bacon's Rebellion as if the rebels exemplified early stirrings of patriotic fervor. More recently, historians view it as the personal rebellion of young Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. against his cousin-by-marriage Governor Sir William Berkeley who, at the time, was 70. This may sound like Mordred's plot to stir up jealousies and challenge the idealism of King Arthur in Camelot, yet the complex leveraging of opportunities involved in a "perfect storm" meant weaving together the facts, effects and analysis of economic problems, heavy losses in naval wars with the Dutch, and weather (hailstorms, floods, day spells and hurricanes in one year).

    Prof. Foner describes it in different economic terms, focusing on the employment relationship: "indentured servants, slaves, frontiersmen, and landless laborers rebel against colonial authorities."

  • 1688: 'Glorious Revolution' deposes James II and places William of Orange on the English Throne/span>.
  • 1689: Mary and William recognized as Queen and King by Parliament.
  • 1689, December 16: Bill of Rights.
  • 18th Century, 13th Constitutional Year

  • 1733: St. John slave uprising began on sugar cane plantation in Coral Bay. At that time, St. John was Danish.
  • 1734, May: St. John slave uprising suppressed violently by several hundred French troops.
  • 1760, October 25: King George III ascends to the throne following the death of his grandfather, King George II of Great Britain.
  • 1765, March 22: Stamp Act (Avalon Project / Cache).

    Opposition increased when Parliament passed the Stamp Act. The colonists boycotted British goods and attacked customhouses and tax collectors' homes.

  • 1765, March 24: Quartering Act. (Avalon Project / Cache)
  • 1765, October: Patriots' Stamp Act Congress ("No Taxation without Representation").

    The Stamp Act required colonists to pay for the wars and continued presence of the British military. Many colonists did not view the British as a benign protective force but, rather, as an invasive occupation force. The slogan "No Taxation Without Representation" was adopted and opposition was formalized in the Stamp Act Congress.

  • 1766, March 18: Parliament repealed the Stamp Act and passed the Declaratory Act.
  • This was good news and bad news. The colonies had established their power to convince Parliament to roll-back taxes and Parliament declared Britain's right to the "full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America ... in all cases whatsoever" (Emphasis added.)

  • 1767: Townshend Acts.

    Parliament began passing a new series of statutes designed to get the colonies to pay more of the costs of maintaining their presence in the colonies and to punish the colonies for their opposition to the taxes.

  • 1768, May: Occupation of Boston.

    According to Wikipedia (Cache):

    "a British warship armed with 50 cannons sails into Boston harbor after a call for help from custom commissioners who are constantly being harassed by Boston agitators. In June, a customs official is locked up in the cabin of the Liberty, a sloop owned by John Hancock. Imported wine is then unloaded illegally into Boston without payment of duties. Following this incident, customs officials seize Hancock's sloop. After threats of violence from Bostonians, the customs officials escape to an island off Boston, then request the intervention of British troops."

    British punishment did not intimidate the colonies. Rather, it led to greater opposition.

  • 1770, March 5: Boston Massacre
    Boston Massacre
  • 1772: Somerset Case.

    Lord Mansfield of King's Bench freed a fellow who had been kidnapped while playing on the west coast of Africa when he was about 9 years old, survived the Middle Passage and learned English quickly, was sold to a 24-year-old merchant who used him as his assistant and, much later, in 1769, took him to London where the merchant moved to help take care of his sister and her household. We know the slave by his slave name: James Somerset. The judge found the air in London was so free, and slavery was so odious, without a law from Parliament, the slave had to go free.

    No one knew the ramifications of this decision.

    One possibility was, as Foner says:"Somerset case ruling by Lord Mansfeld prohibits slavery in England."

    The Virginia slave-holders were not going to wait to find out. They agreed with patriots from Boston, like John Adams, to meet and consider what to do.

  • 1773: Phillis Wheatley, an African American poet, published in London: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

    Available at Bartleby.com and University of South Carolina, Thomas Cooper Library.

  • 1773: The Sons of Liberty dashed across the darkened countryside carrying secret messages between the Committees of Correspondence.

  • 1773, December 16: Boston Tea Party.

    Boston Tea Party
    (Click image for larger image and more information about the image.)

  • 1774, March 31: Boston Port Act.

    1774 Boston Port Act
    (Click image for larger image and more information about the image.)

  • 1774, September 5-October 26: First Continental Congress.

    Philadelphia. First in-person meeting of delegates.

    12 colonies were represented:

    • Connecticut (2 delegates, including Roger Sherman)
    • Delaware (3 delegates)
    • Georgia (Only colony not to send a delegation)
    • Maryland (5 delegates, including Samuel Chase, future Supreme Court justice)
    • Massachusetts (4 delegates: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing and Robert Treat Paine)
    • New Hampshire (2 delegates)
    • New Jersey (5 delegates, including Stephen Crane [disambiguation: not the author, much later, of The Red Badge of Courage])
    • New York (9 delegates, including John Jay)
    • North Carolina (3 delegates)
    • Pennsylvania (8 delegates, including Edward Biddle (uncle of Nicholas Biddle), John Dickinson and Joseph Galloway)
    • Rhode Island (2 delegates)
    • South Carolina (5 delegates, including John Rutledge (2nd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 1795) and (creator of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag)
    • Vermont (not a separate colony)

      Called "New Hampshire Grants" (1749-77) because land grants were issued by the governor of New Hampshire. Some of the land grants were in territory claimed by New York. Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys, a private militia, fought, intimidated and discouraged the New Yorkers. In 1775, they contributed to the Revolution by capturing Fort Ticonderoga. In 1777, they established a separate government, an independent country. Originally named New Connecticut, six months later there was a name change to the Vermont Republic. The Vermont Republic constitution abolished some slavery.)

    • Virginia (7 delegates, including Richard Bland [author: An Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies], Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Washington)

  • 1775, April 14: The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage is formed by Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet in Philadelphia.

  • 1775: Transylvania Company purchased over 20 million acres, mostly in the areas now known as West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

    The governing body was called the Watauga Association. It was considered illegal by the British government and the Chickamauga Cherokees. For instance, according to Wikipedia, in 1774 Lord Dunmore called the Watauga Association a "dangerous example" of Americans forming a government "distinct from and independent of his majesty's authority."

    However, the western lands of Virginia and North Carolina were still part of those colonies, which did not cede (give up) their western claims to form the Northwest Territories and the Southwest Territories until 1787 and 1790, respectively.

    In the late 1780s, attempts were made to bring part of the area included in the Transylvania Purchase into the United States as the State of Franklin (in honor of Benjamin Franklin). The President/Governor of Franklin was Col. John Sevier (who later became the first governor of Tennessee). The Speaker of the Senate was Landon Carter.

  • 1775, April 19: Lexington and Concord.

    Shot heard 'round the world as a rag-tag patriot militia engaged in asymmetrical armed conflict with an overwhelming force of well trained and equipped British redcoats.

  • 1775, May 5: Second Continental Congress convenes.
  • 1775, May 10: Fort Ticonderoga captured.
  • 1775, June 14: Continental Army formed.
  • 1775, June 17: George Washington commissioned Commander-in-Chief, Philadelphia.
  • 1775, June 17: Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill, Boston.
  • 1775, June: Invasion of Canada approved by Continental Congress. Main purpose was to convince the French in Canada to join the revolution.
  • There were two expeditionary forces totaling about 10,000:

    Late August, Richard Montgomery left Ft. Ticonderoga, captured Fort St. Johns in late November. British General Guy Carlton left Montreal and Montgomery's forces secured the city. Carlton retreated to Quebec City. Montgomery's forces headed that way, too.

    Early September, the second expeditionary force left Cambridge, Massachusetts, under the command of Benedict Arnold. They trudged through Maine's wilderness and arrived near Quebec City starving and with few supplies. Montgomery's forces arrived in December.

    December 31, in a snowstorm, the Continental Army attacked Quebec City. They lost. Montgomery was killed. Arnold was wounded. An impotent siege of Quebec began and lasted until British reinforcements arrived in May. Gen. Carlton counter-attacked and drove Benedict Arnold's smallpox-weakened troops back to Ft. Ticonderoga.

  • 1775, July 5: Olive Branch Petition approved by Continental Congress.

    This attempt to find conciliation with the King was so important to the Congress that two originals were signed by the delegates. One was carried by Richard Penn and the other by Arthur Lee. They traveled to England on separate boats.

  • 1775, July 6: Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.
  • 1775, July 8: Boats left for England carrying the Olive Branch Petition, and arrived six weeks later.

  • 1775, August 21: Working copy of Olive Branch Petition sent to Lord Dartmouth, the King's Secretary of State for the Colonies. Lord Dartmouth received an original on September 1.

  • 1775, August 23: King issues "A Proclamation for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition"

    The Proclamation of Rebellion was based on news of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

  • 1775, September 1: Lord Dartmouth received original of Olive Branch Petition

    The same day, Lord Dartmouth, the King's Secretary of State for the Colonies, tried to put the Olive Branch Petition before the King. He was unsuccessful. The representatives from the colonies were told that since "his Majesty did not receive it on the throne, no answer would be given." Great Britain's Proclamation of Rebellion remained in effect.

  • 1776, January 10: Tom Paine publishes Common Sense
  • 1776, July 4: Declaration of Independence.
  • 1777, November 15: Articles of Confederation finalized and placed before the states for ratification.
  • 1777: Vermont's new constitution abolishes slavery.

    The Vermont Republic's constitution was the first to ban adult slavery, provide for public schools, and require universal male suffrage without regard to property ownership.

  • 1778: France and Patriots negotiate commercial treaty; France enters war against Britain.
  • 1780: Pennsylvania legislature adopts gradual abolition law, freeing slaves born after 1780, when they turn 28.
  • 1780: Massachusetts courts abolish slavery through interpretation of state constitution's freedom clause.
  • 1781, March 1: Articles of Confederation ratified by all 13 states.
  • 1781, March 1: Second Continental Congress disbanded.
  • 1781, October: Yorktown, Virginia

    French fleet arrived to the grateful glee of General Washington. British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered.

  • 1783, September 3: Treaty of Paris recognizes American independence, sets sometimes unexpectedly ambiguous terms for peace, and ends the Revolutionary War.
  • 1786-87: Shay's Rebellion. Western Massachusetts. Small farmers and debtors. Many farmers lost their farms. Debtors went to prison. Anger was directed at local enforcement of taxes and judgments for debt. Lack of effective state and local response added to some national leaders' call for reform of the Articles of Confederation. A few of the events are included in this timeline.
  • 1786, August 29: As part of Shay's Rebellion, 1,500 farmers closed the Northampton courthouse.
  • 1786, September 5: Worcester Court shut down. County militia refused to respond.
  • 1786: Rhode Island - Political response to Shay's Rebellion. New legislature elected that required merchants holding IOUs to accept devalued currency as payment of the debt.
  • 1786, October 22: James Warren wrote to John Adams:
    "We are now in a state of Anarchy and Confusion bordering on Civil War."
  • 1786, December 15: Edward Coles born at Enniscorthy in Albemarle County, Virginia:

    "on Green Mountain, about forty-five miles west of Richmond on the James River. The plantation is located on the same range of hills as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, James Monroe's Ash Lawn, and James Madison's Montpelier."
    (Carveth, B. G. (2012, October 11). Edward Coles (1786–1868). Retrieved February 16, 2013, from
    Encyclopedia Virginia.

    Coles' parents, John Coles II (1745–1808) and Rebecca Elizabeth Tucker (1750 - 1826), had 13 children. They were second cousins of Dolley Payne (aka: Dolley Madison).

  • 1787, May 16: Federalists and Anti-Federalists began their debate. (See, TeachingAmericanHistory.org, accessed Feb. 16, 2013.)
  • 1787, May 25: Constitutional Convention began, in the sweltering summer of Philadelphia.
  • 1787, July 2: Constitutional Convention deadlocked over slavery.
    (A. Blumrosen and R. Blumrosen, www.slavenation.us, p. 185.)
  • 1787, July 13: Passage of the Northwest Ordinance.

    The Congress sitting in New York City voted for the Northwest Ordinance providing that the area west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio River be slave-free. (A. Blumrosen and R. Blumrosen, www.slavenation.us, p. 225.)

  • 1787, July 14-16: Deadlock broken.

    News of the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance reached Philadelphia. The Connecticut Compromise broke the deadlock over slavery by providing equal representation of the states in the Senate and representation in the House by population plus 3/5 of the slaves in a state. (A. Blumrosen and R. Blumrosen, www.slavenation.us, p. 225.)

  • 1787, August 20: Charles Pinckney proposed a list of rights.
    These were referred to the Committee of Detail and were not included in the final version of the Constitution.
  • 1787, September 12: George Mason moved for a committee to study a Bill of Rights.
    With one abstention, all states voted "Nay." Apparently, the delegates wanted to go home.
  • 1787, September 17: Constitution was signed and the Convention adjourned.

    George Mason refused to sign the Constitution. He noted his "Objections" on the back of his draft-copy of the Constitution. His first point is that "There is no declaration of rights." (Original at Williams College / Cache)

    Among his 16 points, he notes that "There is no declaration of any kind, for preserving the liberty of the press, or the trial by jury in civil causes; nor against the danger of standing armies in time of peace." (George Mason's Home, Gunston Hall / Cache)

  • 1787, December 4-7: Delaware ratifying convention met and ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1787, December 12: Pennsylvania ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1787, December 18: New Jersey ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, January 2: Georgia ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, January 8: Connecticut ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, February 6: Massachusetts ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, April 28: Maryland ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, May 23: South Carolina ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, June 21: New Hampshire ratified proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, June 16: The Virginia ratification convention
    George Mason, Patrick Henry and others thought "There ought be a Bill of Rights."
  • 1788, June 26: Virginia ratified proposed Constitution, without a Bill of Rights.

    Virginia was the ninth state to ratify the proposed Constitution. According to Art. VII: "The ratification of the conventions of nine states, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this constitution between the states so ratifying the same."

  • 1788, July 26: New York ratified the proposed Constitution.
  • 1788, Sept 13 (Saturday): Congress resolved "whereas the constitution so reported by the Convention and by Congress transmitted to the several legislatures has been ratified in the manner therein declared to be sufficient for the establishment of the same and such ratifications duly authenticated have been received by Congress and are filed in the Office of the Secretary therefore Resolved That the first Wednesday in Jany next be the day for appointing Electors in the several states, which before the said day shall have ratified the said Constitution...."
  • 1788, December 25: Last Federalist or Anti-Federalist Article.
  • 1788: Pressure from abolitionists leads Parliament to investigate slave trade.
  • 1788, June 17: The Third Estate declares itself to be the National Assembly
  • 1788, July 14: Storming of the Bastille, and the beginning of the “Great Fear” peasant uprising.
  • 1789, January 24: The Estates-General is convoked in France for the first time since 1614, marking the beginning of the French Revolution.
  • 1789, February 15: Jefferson's acknowledgement of Bacon, Locke and Newton.

    "Bacon, Locke and Newton, ... I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundations of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical & Moral sciences, I would wish to form them into a knot on the same canvas, that they may not be confounded at all with the herd of other great men ...." (Letter to John Trumbull, LOC, www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/18.html, accessed 4/23/2016.)

  • 1789, April 30: George Washington took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1789, June 6: James Madison (VA) moved Congress for a Bill of Rights.

    Over 100 separate amendments had been suggested during the state ratification proceedings. (First Federal Congress Project, accessed Feb. 16, 2013 / Cache.

    Madison's proposal included 19 provisions in 9 amendments. (Scholastic: Celebrate the Constitution, accessed Feb. 16, 2013.)

  • 1789, August 26: Declaration of the Rights of Man. (France)
  • 1789, September 28: After deliberating, Congress proposed 12 Amendments for consideration by the states. (First Federal Congress Project, accessed Feb. 16, 2013 / Cache.)

    The proposed first Amendment has not been ratified. The proposed second Amendment was not ratified in time to become part of the Bill of Rights. It became the 27th Amendment, concerning the compensation of members of the House and Senate, and was ratified on May 7, 1992. (OurDocuments.gov, accessed Feb. 16, 2013)

  • 1789, November 21: North Carolina ratified the Constitution.
  • 1790, May 29: Rhode Island ratified the Constitution.
  • 1790: French National Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
  • 1790: Revolution begins in Saint Domingue with Mulatto property- and slave-holders demanding equal rights.
  • 1791: Thomas Paine publishes The Rights of Man.
  • 1791: National Assembly abolishes guilds and passes Le Chapelier law banning labor unions.
  • 1791: British Parliament rejects William Wilberforce's Bill to abolish the slave trade.
  • 1791: Constituent Assembly in France gives full political rights to mulattos and free blacks; white planters in Saint Domingue rebel, align with British and Spanish monarchists.
  • 1792: France dispatches a Commission led by Léger-Félicité Sonthonax and 6,000 troops to enforce the political rights of mulattos, expel British and Spanish from Saint Domingue.
  • 1793: Sonthonax frees 15,000 slaves, marking the beginning of the alliance between the slave insurrection and revolutionary, republican France.
  • 1793: First textile mill in America built by Samuel Slater in Rhode Island, employs only children under 12.
  • 1793: Invention of the cotton gin, facilitating the expansion of cotton cultivation and slavery.
  • 1794: In Pluviose Decree, French National Assembly abolishes slavery in the colonies
  • 1794: French National Assembly abolishes slavery in the colonies; Toussaint L'Ouverture deserts monarchist Spain and joins the French republican cause.
  • 1794: Whiskey Rebellion

    Farmers in western Pennsylvania rebel against tax on whiskey levied to pay revolutionary war debt; the new federal authority displayed overwhelming force in quelling the revolt.

  • 1795: British invasion repulsed by Toussaint.
  • 1797: John Adams took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1799: New York adopts a gradual emancipation law
  • 19th Century, 113th Constitutional Year

  • 1800: Gabriel Prosser slave insurrection planned in Richmond Virginia, inspired by example of Haiti
  • 1801: Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1802: Under Napoleon, French General Leclerc invades Saint Domingue to capture Toussaint, re-establish slavery and revive the colonial empire.
  • 1803: In Haiti, French imperial army defeated; rebel leaders sign Proclamation of Independence.
  • 1803: Louisiana Purchase negotiated by President Thomas Jefferson, former ambassador to France.
  • 1804, January 1: Republic of Haiti established, the second independent American republic.
  • 1805: Coles attended Hampden-Sydney and then transferred to William and Mary.

    William and Mary was a venerable institution in Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia, where Anglican clerics and other colonists were prepared for positions of influence, power, and prestige in the English Empire.

    In 1780, the capital of Virginia was moved to Richmond. Williamsburg and the college slid into disrepair and disrepute. Following the Revolution, William and Mary had to rebuild its treasury, faculty, curriculum, student body, and reputation. The Rev. James Madison, Episcopal Bishop, President of the College and second cousin to James Madison, future president of the United States, had time to engage Coles in discussion. (Carveth, B. G. (2012, October 11). Edward Coles (1786–1868), retrieved February 16, 2013, from: Encyclopedia Virginia, and Leichtle and Carveth, Crusade Against Slavery, p. 11.)

  • 1806: Philadelphia Cordwainers union bankrupted by fine for conspiracy. Legal proceedings against "criminal conspiracies in restraint of trade" become general means for employers to prevent labor organizing.
  • 1807: British Parliament bans the Atlantic Slave Trade.
  • 1808: Coles inherited his father's Rockfish Plantation with 782 acres of land and 12 slaves. His father had inherited it from his father, who had been an immigrant from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland. Coles left college before graduating to tend to his garden. (Carveth, B. G. (2012, October 11). Edward Coles (1786–1868). Retrieved February 16, 2013, from: Encyclopedia Virginia.)
  • 1808: Slave trade is banned by the United States.
  • 1808: DC enacts "Black Codes."

    10 p.m. was curfew for "Negroes" or "loose, idle, disorderly persons". Fine for violation was $5. Punishment for non-payment was whipping. Free people had the choice, if they could afford to pay the fine. Enslaved people had to rely on their owners.

  • 1808: Charles Fourier publishes Théorie des quatre movements et des destinées générales proclaiming the 'phalanx' as the scientific social organization of human society.
  • February 12, 1809: Birth of Abraham Lincoln.
  • March 1809: James Madison took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • April 1809: James Madison appoints Ninian Edwards of Kentucky to be the 1st Illinois Territorial Governor. (CyberDriveIllinois, accessed 2/18/2013 / Cache )
  • 1810-11: Hidalgo's Rebellion in Mexico against Spanish rule.
  • 1810 - 1815: Coles was President Madison's Secretary (Dolley Madison's cousin).
  • 1811: Coles encountered John Adams.
  • 1812: DC enacts stricter "Black Codes."

    Fine for violation went to $20. Punishment for non-payment was 6 months in jail for free people or 40 lashes for enslaved people. Free African Americans had to register with the local government and carry their certificates of freedom at all times." "Ending Slavery in the District of Columbia"

  • 1814, September 13-14: 35-year-old lawyer, Francis Scott Key, wrote the Star Spangled Banner after witnessing the British bombardment of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812's Battle of Baltimore.

    Francis Scott Key was aboard the British ship H.M.S. Tonnant to negotiate a release of prisoners. He was not allowed to leave because of the impending British attack on U.S. forces. He had nothing to do, but watch, ponder and write.

  • 1814: Coles, in a series of correspondence with Thomas Jefferson, encouraged his neighbor to join in manumission of slaves. Jefferson declined and reminded Coles that freedom might mean hardship for former slaves as they would be required to leave Virginia within one year. (A. Blumrosen and R. Blumrosen, Slave Nation, pp. 246-48.)
  • 1815: Congress of Vienna marks the end of the 'Age of Revolution' and Napoleon's conquests in Europe.
  • 1815, June: Coles traveled in the Northwest Territory.
  • 1816 – 1817: The President sent Coles on a diplomatic mission to Russia.

    In the summer of 1816, Coles set out from Boston Harbor, sailed east across the Atlantic and entered the Baltic on a U.S. man-of-war, the Prometheus.2 In St. Petersburg, he was kept waiting three months for Emperor Alexander, who was traveling in Moscow and Poland.

    Coles mission concerned the Russian Minister in Washington, Count Dashkoff. The Count must have been a dashing figure, pre-eminent amongst the diplomatic corps. He was the first to attempt reconciliation between the United States and Great Britain to end the War of 1812. Gallatin's son recounts in his diary:

    MARCH 12, 1813

    The Russian Minister Count Dashkoff offered mediation, on the part of the Emperor Alexander, to the Secretary of State. Father thinks this very important and of great weight.

    MARCH 14

    The President has decided to send a Commission to Russia without delay and has requested father to go. He feels that it is his duty. Father rarely talks to anybody now, his mind seems fully occupied with the grave situation. I think I am the only person he confides in. He has decided to take me with him as his Private Secretary.

    MARCH 17

    Mr. Madison told father to-day that there was nobody compared to him as a negotiator. It has pleased him greatly. Mr. Bayardt and J. Q. Adams, our Minister at St. Petersburg, form the Commission.

    APRIL 21

    We sail on May 9.

    A great peace maker: the Diary of James Gallatin, Secretary to Albert Gallatin, 1813 - 1827, By James Gallatin (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1914)

    As important and weighty as Minister Dashkoff's work may have been, it was his personal life that had brought Coles to the center of the Russian Empire. When he could, Coles explained the situation to the Emperor who quickly recalled his Minister from Washington. Coles' mission was a success and he took the "scenic way" back to the United States traveling overland through Paris to enjoy his time in the capitals of Europe, eventually sailing west from Liverpool to New York. (Sketchbook, pp. 40-41.3 )

  • 1817: James Monroe took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1817: Zoar Separatists led by Joseph Bimeler form utopian community in northeastern Ohio.
  • 1817: Simon Bolívar launches war of liberation from Haiti, with material support and Haitian soldiers granted on condition that slavery will be abolished in the new Latin American republics.
  • 1819, April: Coles moves.

    Coles sold his real estate to his older brother, Walter. He directed his slaves to set out from the plantation, heading north and west. The group of slaves met Coles at Brownsville, PA, and were put on two boats. There seems to be discrepancy as to whether the boats had flat bottoms or keels. Whatever type of boat they were, flatboats or keelboats, they floated along the Ohio River heading west toward the point where Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio now meet. It was the edge of slavery.

    As the sun rose, Coles gathered his slaves on deck and proclaimed: "You are now Free. Free as me."(4 )

    Needless to say, there was shock, apprehension, and concern. What would happen now? Would they have to leave the boat and be put ashore, in a land they did not know? Could they somehow stay together and keep what was familiar? Some spoke their concerns out loud and suggested to Mr. Coles that he was being premature; that he should wait. They would stay with him, in slavery, until he got to Illinois. Once they were all sure that he was comfortable in his new home, then he could consider setting them free. Coles would not relent; reversion to slavery was not possible. However, he assured the people on his boats that they did not have to leave him - they did not have to strike out on their own - though, they could if they wished. It was their choice. His offer, to those who wanted to stay, was land for each family, jobs for some, and assistance for the others.5

    They all chose to stay afloat, and proceeded to Illinois. Coles had a letter of introduction from the President; his companions had Coles' promise.

  • 1819 - 1822: Coles first job was to run a county land office, where owners of real estate encountered him while registering transactions in land.
  • 1821: Venezuela and Mexico declare independence.
  • 1821: Missouri Compromise, spurs the emergence of second party system that systematically removes slavery from political contention; sets 36' 30 as demarcation between free and slave states.
  • 1822: Coles was elected 2nd Governor of Illinois.

    During his term as Governor, pro-slavers claimed that Illinois was required to enter the United States as a free state, but did not have to remain that way. They called for a Constitutional Convention for the explicit purpose of amending the Illinois Constitution to permit slavery.

  • 1822: American Colonization Society founds Liberia on the west coast of Africa as a homeland for free blacks and liberated slaves.
  • 1822: August Comte publishes Plan of the Scientific Operations Necessary for Reorganizing Society.
  • 1824: Congress passes protective tariff to develop American industry.
  • 1824: Independence of Peru.
  • 1825: John Quincy Adams took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1825: Erie Canal is completed, prompting rapid commercial transformation.
  • 1825: Robert Owen establishes New Harmony utopian community in southern Indiana.
  • 1825, April 27: First strike for the 10-hour work-day by journeymen carpenters in Boston.
  • 1825: Utopian socialist Charles-Henri Saint-Simon publishes Nouveau Christianisme calling for universal Christian brotherhood and a scientific organization of industry and society.
  • 1825: Independence of Bolivia.
  • 1826: Position as 2nd Governor of Illinois Ends.

    Coles' fortune had been spent freeing his slaves, preserving their liberty, and creating opportunity. His term in office had been spent fighting the pro-slavers. When it was over, he was broke yet successful.

    One of his closest supporters was Nicholas Biddle, a Philadelphia attorney who was developing the Second Bank of the United States. When Coles completed his life as a politician, he moved to Philadelphia where, it is rumored, he married the most wealthy eligible woman, Sally Logan Roberts, raised a family with three children (Mary Coles, Edward Coles, Jr., Roberts Coles), and was influential in the founding of the Republican Party.

  • 1826, February 13: American Temperance Society founded in Boston.
  • 1827: Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm publish Freedom's Journal, the first African American newspaper.
  • 1828, August 11: Workingmen's Party founded in Philadelphia (New York in 1829), demands universal male suffrage, public education, labor lien laws, shorter working hours, and an end to imprisonment for debt, prison contract labor, and compulsory service in the militia.
  • 1829: Andrew Jackson took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1829: David Walker publishes his Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World.
  • 1829, October 31: George Henry Evans establishes the Working Man's Advocate, the first labor paper.
  • 1829: Francis Wright tours the United States lecture circuit speaking on feminism.

    Who was Francis Wright? Francis Wright was another individualist who believed in equality and followed her heart as she traversed a tumultuous terrain with many obstacles. Writing and lecturing, she had many followers and admirers but few adherents.

    Francis Wright was an English "first wave feminist" who sought the safety and camaraderie of a utopian colony called "Nashoba," which she founded in western Tennessee in 1885. Today, she sounds like a 1960s "second wave" feminist. For example, in the era written-about by Jane Austin, when women were the chattel property of their father or husband and sex was a self-sacrificing duty that required conscious self-discipline by virtuous women, Ms. Wright wrote "Explanatory Notes, Respecting the Nature and Objects of the Institution of Nasheba, and of the principles upon Which it is Founded." She talked about the virtue of sexual passion as "the best source of human happiness." Thomas Jefferson was an admirer and probably "got it," meaning he understood that the virtue of pursuing happiness may lead to the liberty of enjoyment in sexual pleasures.

    Such freedom was a virtue that made people happy:

    happy in proportion as they are free ... ignorant laws, ignorant prejudices, ignorant codes of morals ... condemn one portion of the female sex to vicious excess, another to as vicious restraint, and all to defenseless helplessness and slavery, and generally the whole of the male sex to debasing licentiousness, if not to loathsome brutality."

    New-Harmony Gazette, January 30, 1828, Nashoba

    Francis Wright wrote forcefully against the subordination of women, analogizing domination by men with the brutality of slavery. Eventually, her advocation of freedom led her to oppose the institution of U. S. hereditary racial slavery. The intentional community she founded, Nashoba, was a place where blacks had the opportunity to be both free and equal.

    Jefferson phrased his Lockian battle-cry of equality as "All men are created equal" to clarify the vision of the new nation in a way that was acceptable to the decision-makers of the time. Francis Wright's more strident advocacy, combined with her colonization of the wilderness south of the Ohio River, alienated former allies who owned slaves, including James Madison. See Ronnie Pontiac, Newtopia Magazine, "The Red Harlot of Liberty: The Rise and Fall of Frances Wright", a lengthy yet chatty article supported with a bibliography of 12 references. (Cache)

  • 1830: Textile mills open in Lowell Massachusetts.
  • 1830, March 26: Joseph Smith publishes the Book of Mormon, founds the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS).
  • 1830, May 28: Indian Removal Act signed by President Jackson.

    This statute authorized the President to survey and identify the boundaries of districts in the territory west of the Mississippi river "not included in any state of organized territory, and to which the Indian title has been extinguished" and to offer to exchange those districts for land that lies within existing states east of the Mississippi that belonged to tribes with which the United States had treaties. There were provisions that could have compensated individual Native Americans who had improvements upon the lands to be vacated; provided the "emigrants" with "aid and assistance ... necessary and proper" for their removal and resettlement; provided "aid and assistance ... for their support and subsistence" for the first year after their removal; defended their title to their new district(s); protected them "against all interruption or disturbance from any other tribe or nation of Indians, or from any other person or persons whatever"; and, upheld the sanctity "of any existing treaty between the United States and any of the Indian tribes."

    Some tribes moved voluntarily; others resisted. During the cold wintery months of 1838-39, the Cherokee nation was forcibly moved along multiple paths from Georgia (where gold had been discovered) and North Carolina to Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The suffering of the refugees during this forced migration was so great that there were tears, which is one reason we now know this as the "Trail of Tears." Since 1987, the paths taken by foot and boat have been designated a national historic trail by Congress. See: The Library of Congress, Primary Documents in American History, Indian Removal Act to view the Statutes at Large of the 1st session of the 21st Congress; legislative history; correspondence and other historical documents; teaching material; and references (including external web sites, a selected bibliography, and material for "Younger Readers"). See, also, Cherokee.org and the Trail of Tears Association.

    Trail of Tears
    Trail of Tears Association

  • 1830, July: Revolution in France overthrows Charles X and places Louis-Phillipe on the thrown to rule as a constitutional monarch.
  • 1831, August 21: Nat Turner's Rebellion

    In South Hampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner and about 70 other slaves killed their owner's family and then went house-to-house. They killed about 50 whites. A militia put down the rebellion and captured Nat Turner and 55 other slaves, who were later executed by the state of Virginia.

    White riots ensued, about 200 slaves were killed. State laws were passed further repressing slaves. For example, some states passed laws outlawing teaching slaves to read or write because Nat Turner had been bright enough to plot out his rebellion.

  • 1831: William Lloyd Garrison publishes the Liberator in Boston with the financial support of the free black community.
  • 1831, October: Riots in major urban areas of Britain after parliamentary reform bill was rejected by the House of Lords.
  • 1832: Charles Grandison Finney begins preaching in New York city as part of the Second Great Awakening.

    Eighteenth-century Calvinists stressed the sinful nature of humans and the incapacity of people to rise above their human nature, with the only hope for salvation being the grace of God working arbitrarily through the holy spirit in pursuit of a plan not-always-known to humans.

    During the Second Awakening, Protestant evangelicals like Charles Grandison Finney agreed that it is very difficult for someone, alone, to rise out of sin. They knew humans could arrange to make religious conversion more likely and, therefore, less divine. In 1834, Finney gave a series of Friday night lectures which were transcribed and published as "What a Revival of Religion Is" in the New York Evangelist:

    "Religion is the work of man. It is something for man to do."
    They started camp meetings of hundreds of people who spent several weeks helping sinners repent and surrender to God.
    "A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God. Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first stop is a deep repentence, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God, with deep humility, and foresaking of sin. ...

    "Christians will have their faith renewed. While they are in their back-slidden state they are blind to the state of sinners. Their hearts are as hard as marble. The truths of the Bible only appear like a dream. They admit it to be all true; their conscience and their judgment assent to it; but their faith does not see it standing out in bold relief, in all the burning realities of eternity. But when they enter into a revival, they ... see things in that strong light which will renew the love of God in their hearts. This will lead them to work zealously to bring others to him. ..."

    Lectures on the Revivals of Religion (1835), The Radical Reader, pp. 66-68.

  • 1831: Samuel Sharpe leads 10-day slave revolt in Jamaica known as the "Christmas Uprising" or "Baptist War".
  • 1832: Jackson wages "Bank War," vetoing the reauthorization of the Second Bank of the United States, and attacking Henry Clary, Nicholas Biddle and the supporters of "monopoly".
  • 1832: The 'Great Reform Act' passes Parliament.
  • 1833: American Anti-Slavery Society founded in Philadelphia, calling for immediate abolition of slavery through non-violent 'moral-suasion,' condemns racism.
  • 1833: Parliament passes Factory Acts restricting the employment of women and children.
  • 1833: Workingmen's Party splits between the Equal Rights Party and the Locofoco wing of the Democratic party.
  • 1834: First 'turn out' by female workers at Lowell textile mills.
  • 1834: 'Farren Riots' in New York City against abolitionists, African Americans, and foreigners.
  • 1834: Britain abolishes slavery in its colonies, with a four-year apprenticeship.
  • 1834: Poor relief comes under centralized control with new Poor Law passed by Parliament.
  • 1835: Revolution against Mexican government establishes independent Republic of Texas.
  • 1836: House of Representatives passes 'gag rule' prohibiting debate of antislavery petitions.
  • 1837: Martin Van Buren took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1837: John Humphrey Noyes leads 'Perfectionists' in the creation of the Putney utopian community, eventually evolves into the highly successful Oneida cooperative community practicing complex marriage.
  • 1837, November 7: Abolitionist editor and publisher Elijah Lovejoy murdered by a mob in Alton, Illinois; his printing press was famously thrown into the Mississippi.

    According to AltonWeb this was the fourth printing press destroyed by anti-abolitionist mobs. The mayor told the abolitionists to defend their property. Bullets were shot from the mob. The abolitionists returned fire. Pro-slavers set fire to the roof and shot Elijah Lovejoy as he tried to put out the fire. He was buried in an unmarked grave two days later, on his 35th birthday. AltonWeb considers this the first battle of the Civil War.

  • 1838: Charles Dickens publishes Oliver Twist depicting condition of English poor.
  • 1838: Chartist in Britain movement begins, calling for universal male suffrage, secret ballot, an end to property qualifications, and annual elections to Parliament.
  • 1839: British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society established to combat slavery world wide; antislavery wars, occupations, and annexations become means of legitimating Britain's imperial conquest of Africa.
  • 1840: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon publishes 'What is Property?'
  • 1841: Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, joins the abolitionist movement, soon rises to prominence.
  • 1841, March 4: William Henry Harrison took the oath of office as President of the United States. John Tyler becomes Vice President.
  • 1841, April 4: John Tyler took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1841: Brook Farm established as transcendentalist, cooperative community, later reorganized as a phalanx according to the ideas of Charles Fourier.
  • 1842: Judge Lemuel Shaw rules in Commonwealth v. Hunt that labor unions are legal and workers should not be charged with conspiracy, although courts remain hostile to unions.
  • 1844: Gag rule preventing debate on petitions calling for the abolition of slavery is lifted in Congress.
  • 1845: James K. Polk took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1845: Beginning of Irish Potato famine, eventually killing more than one million Irish peasants, and leading another million to emigrate, many to the United States.
  • 1845: Admission of Texas as a slave state after period as an independent republic.
  • 1846-48: Mexican American War, prompted by the annexation of Texas.
  • 1846, August: David Wilmot, Democratic Congressmen from Pennsylvania, attaches a proviso to a military appropriations bill prohibiting the expansion of slavery into territory potentially acquired from Mexico.
  • 1847: Frederick Douglass establishes the North Star abolitionist newspaper in Rochester, New York after breaking with the Garrisonian abolitionist movement in Massachusetts.
  • 1848: Karl Marx and Frederich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto, calling for a international European revolution in which workers would seize control of the state and establish socialism.
  • 1848: First convention of the Free Soil party held in Buffalo, New York; establishes platform with slogan of 'Free Soil, Free Speech, Free labor and Free Men'; opposed to the expansion of slavery into the territories.
  • 1848, February: Louis Phillipe abdicates, second republic is declared in France.
  • 1848: France under the second republic abolishes slavery, founds Gabon for settlement of emancipated slaves.
  • 1848, March: Revolution breaks out in Venice, Italy and in Germany in Berlin and the Rhineland, Lajos Kossuth calls for democracy in the Hungarian Diet.
  • 1848, April: In England a mass meeting of 50,000 Chartists delivers petition demanding reform, threaten to establish an autonomous assembly, rioters attack a workhouse in Manchester; authorities fear imminent revolution.
  • 1848, May: Delegates from German states meet in Frankfurt, begin forming a constitution for a united, liberal-democratic Germany; Metternicht resigns from the Austrian government.
  • 1848, June 24-26: June days in France, after the closure of the National Workshops, working-class revolt is brutally crushed by Republican guard.
  • 1848, November: Pope flees and a republic is declared in Rome.
  • 1849: Zachary Taylor took the oath of office as President of the United States. Millard Fillmore becomes Vice President.
  • 1849: Collapse of revolutionary regimes; Frankfurt assembly completes German constitution but Frederick William IV of Prussia refuses to serve as German emperor, forcing the assembly to dissolve.
  • 1850, July: Millard Fillmore took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1850: 'Compromise of 1850' legislation attempts to resolve the issue of slavery in the territory acquired after the Mexican-American War; the compromise provided that California be admitted as a free state, but also created a powerful Fugitive Slave Law, and left the status of slavery up to the inhabitants of the territories to be determined at an unspecified time.
  • 1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin, an immensely popular antislavery narrative.
  • 1853, July: Franklin Pierce took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act repeals the Missouri Compromise by instituting popular sovereignty in the territories north of 36' 30.
  • 1854: Republican Party is founded from coalition of Freesoilers, antislavery Whigs and Democrats, and remnants of the nativist American Party.
  • 1854: Venezuela and Peru abolish slavery.
  • 1855, March 2: Alexander II becomes Emperor of Russia. He will also become King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland.
  • 1855: 'Bleeding Kansas' – mini-civil war between pro- and anti-slavery forces.
  • 1856: Delivered "History of the Ordinance of 1787" to The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  • 1856, May 24-25: Beating of Senator Charles Sumner by Preston Brooks; John Brown leads the Pottawatomie Massacre killing five pro-slavery settlers.

    According to TotallyHistory.com

    "Lawrence (Kansas) had been founded in 1854 by a group of abolitionists who settled there. In December 1855, the village was besieged by pro-slavery supporters. Following the non-fatal shooting of Sheriff Samuel Jones in April the following year, the Lawrence residents expelled the sheriff. ... (Under color of law) Sheriff Jones assembled a group of around 800 pro-slavery supporters and attacked and ransacked the village on May 11. The attack completely destroyed the village and one person was killed."

    In retaliation, John Brown went after Henry Sherman, a violent pro-slavery supporter; James Doyle and his sons, known slave catchers; Allen Wilkinson; James Harris, who they spared but with whom they found Henry Sherman's brother, William, whom they "took to the nearby Pottawatomie Creek and chopped and stabbed to death by swords."

  • 1856, November: Democrat James Buchanan defeats Republican John C. Frémont along sectional lines.
  • 1857: James Buchanan took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1857, March 6: Chief Justice Roger Taney rules in Dred Scott v. Sanford that African Americans cannot be citizens of the United States, have no right to sue in federal courts, and the Congress has no power to ban slavery in any territory in the United States.
  • 1858, October 15: Final Lincoln-Douglas debate..

    According to AltonWeb over 6,000 people gathered in front of the City Hall in Alton, Illinois. Now, the site is memorialized with life-size sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, community-funded through the sale of engraved bricks.

  • 1859: John Brown and followers seize the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia; John Brown is executed and is hailed as a martyr in many northern states.
  • 1860, November: Abraham Lincoln wins four-way election between Republicans, northern Democrats supporting Stephen Douglass, southern Democrats supporting John Breckinridge, and John Bell of the Constitutional Union party.
  • 1860, December: South Carolina secedes from the Union.
  • 1861, January 9: Union attempts to resupply Fort Sumter were repulsed by cadets from the Citadel.
  • 1861, March 3: Alexander II emancipates 23 million serfs in Russia.
  • 1861, March 4: Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as President of the United States. Hannibal Hamlin becomes Vice President.
  • 1861, April 6: Fort Sumter resupply fleet set sail to rendezvous off Charleston Bar.
  • 1861, April 11: 'Harriet Lane' was first resupply ship to arrive.
  • 1861, April 11: Confederate Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard demands surrender of Ft. Sumter.
  • 1861, April 11: U. S. Army Major Robert Anderson declines Beauregard's demands.
  • 1861, April 12, 4:30 a.m.: Confederate-held Ft. Johnson began 34 hour siege of Ft. Sumter.
  • 1861, April 13: Ft. Sumter surrendered. The United States flag was lowered as the band played the Star Spangled Banner, and the fort was evacuated.
  • 1861, April 12: Fort Sumter in South Carolina fires upon Union supply ships.
  • 1861, April 17: Virginia Convention approved Ordinance of Succession subject to statewide referendum.
  • 1861, May 18: Major General Benjamin F. Butler, a lawyer, took command of Ft. Monroe.
  • 1861, May 22: General Butler arrived at Ft. Monroe.
  • 1861, May 23: Gen. Butler sent troops to disrupt voters during the statewide referendum on succession.
  • 1861, May 23: Virginia statewide referendum confirms Ordinance of Succession.
  • 1861, May 27: General Benjamin Butler at Fort Monroe ignores Fugitive Slave Law, labels slaves reaching Union lines as “contraband of war”.

    On May 23, three slaves from nearby Sewell's Point had heard they would be separated from their families and sent to other confederate locations. They escaped and found their way to Ft. Monroe. General Butler interrogated them. When their putative owner demanded their return, General Butler refused on May 27, reasoning:

    "since Virginia had voted to secede, the Fugitive Slave Act no longer applied, and the slaves were contraband of war." Smithsonian Magazine

  • 1861, August 6: Congress passes the First Confiscation Act authorizing Union army to seize rebel property and freed slaves who had fought or labored for the confederate army.
  • 1862, April: Congress abolishes slavery in the District of Columbia with financial compensation to owners.
  • 1862, April 7: Britain and United States sign treaty for the suppression of the slave trade.
  • 1862, July: Second Confiscation Act declared that slaves captured from rebels “shall be forever free,” authorized the President to make provisions for colonization of freedmen and to “employ as many persons of African descent as he may deem necessary and proper for the suppression of the rebellion.”
  • 1863, January 1: Emancipation Proclamation abolishes slavery in rebel states not held by Union forces, reaffirms President's authority to enlist black servicemen in the Union army.
  • 1863: Slavery abolished in the Dutch colonies.
  • 1863, March: Congress passes the Enrollment Act creating a military draft.
  • 1863, January 22: January Uprising.

    Starting as a student movement that grew to include high-ranking officers and politicians, the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth challenged Russian rule. Outnumbered and without outside support, they used guerrilla tactics. The Emperor's response was public executions and deportations to Siberia.

  • 1863, July: Draft Riots in New York City, enrollment records destroyed, widespread violence against African Americans, abolitionists, and large property-holders.
  • 1864, November: Lincoln wins re-election against former Union general George McClellan.
  • 1865, January: Congresses passes 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States.
  • 1865, March: Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as President of the United States. Andrew Johnson becomes Vice President.
  • 1865, April 15: Assassination of President Lincoln.
  • 1865, April 15: Andrew Johnson took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1865, December: Two-thirds of states ratify the 13th Amendment.
  • 1867: Alexander II sold Alaska to the U. S.
  • July 7, 1868: Edward Coles passed away.
  • 1869, March 4: Ulysses S. Grant took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1869, May 10: Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah. Telegrapher sent one word to the nation: "Done!"
  • 1871: Brazil declares free womb law for children born of slave mothers after September 28, 1871.
  • 1873: Slavery abolished in Puerto Rico.
  • 1873, March 22: Slavery abolished in Puerto Rico, by Spain.

    Freed 29,335 people, male and female; 5% of Puerto Rico's population. Slave-owners were indemnified. Former slaves had to sign contracts to work 3 more years and had to wait 5 years to gain political rights. Puerto Rico Encyclopedia, accessed 5/2/2016.

  • 1877, March 4: Rutherford B. Hayes took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1881, March 4: James A. Garfield took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1881, March 13: Assassination of Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.

    St. Petersburg. Narodnaya Volya ("People's Freedom" or "People's Will") were Russian 'populists' organized in local cells advocating indigenous agrarian peasant socialism and the tactic of terrorism. It was a precursor of revolutionary socialist and anarchist organizations. Aware of the Tsar's Sunday routine, 3 members waited with bombs. The first exploded under the Emperor's bullet-proof carriage (a gift from Napoleon). Instead of trying to rush for safety, the Emperor got out to assess what happened. The second bomb was thrown directly at him. The person carrying the third bomb was captured.

  • 1881, September 19: Chester A. Arthur took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1882: Washburn, Sketch of Edward Coles. (Reprint of 1882 edition).
  • 1885, March 4: Grover Cleveland took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1886, October 7: Slavery abolished in Cuba after independence struggle mobilizes Afro-Cubans, six year period of 'apprenticeship' or patronato.
  • 1888, May 13: Slavery abolished in Brazil. According to Wikipedia, "an estimated four million slaves had been imported from Africa to Brazil, 40% of the total number of slaves brought to the Americas."
  • 1889, March 4: Benjamin Harrison took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1893, March 4: Grover Cleveland took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 20th Century, 213th Constitutional Year

  • 1901, September 14: Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1909, March 4: William Howard Taft took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1911: Norton, W. T., Edward Coles: Second Governor of Illinois.
  • 1913, March 4: Woodrow Wilson took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1921, March 4: Warren G. Harding took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1923, August 2: Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1929, March 4: Herbert Hoover took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1933, March 4: Franklin D. Roosevelt (aka: FDR or Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1945, April 12: Harry S. Truman took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1953, January 20: Dwight D. Eisenhower took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1961, January 20: John F. Kennedy (aka: JFK or "Jack") took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1963, November 22: Lyndon B. Johnson (aka: LBJ or Lyndon Baines Johnson) took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1969, January 20: Richard Nixon (aka: Richard M. Nixon or Richard Milhous Nixon) took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1974, August 9: Gerald Ford took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1977, January 20: Jimmy Carter took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1981, January 20: Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1989, January 20: George H. W. Bush took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 1993, January 20: Bill Clinton took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 21st Century, 3rd Millennium, 313th Constitutional Year

  • 2001, January 20: George W. Bush took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 2004: Suzanne D. Cooper-Guasco, Ph.D., Assistant Prof., Queens University, Davidson, NC Dissertation: 'On the Altar of His Principles': Edward Coles and the Crucible of Slavery.
  • 2008: Rick Britton, Jefferson, A Monticello Sampler.
  • 2009, January 20: Barack Obama took the oath of office as President of the United States.
  • 2011: Kurt E. Leichtle and Bruce G. Carveth, Crusade Against Slavery: Edward Coles, Pioneer of Freedom, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville.

Q: Why have I created this website?

A: After having been CIO of the Intentional Job Discrimination Project (www.eeo1.com), editorial consultant of Slave Nation: How Slavery United the Colonies and Sparked the American Revolution (Sourcebooks, 2005, www.slavenation.us), and co-author of "Restoring the Congressional Duty to Declare War" (Rutgers Law Review, 2011, www.warpower.us), I have been asked "What's next?"

This is to explore the possibility of a project to fill in details and provide sense-of-context involving the life of one of the few people who had the resources and followed his heart to put into action Thomas Jefferson's words that we are all "created equal." Impoverished by being governor of Illinois, Coles later contributed what he could to the founding of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln. See Dedication 2015, above.

FN. Boston Tea Party. Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.19467, accessed 4/22/2016.

1. Edward Coles wanted to conserve the governing principal of "freedom and equality for all" that the prior generation had created out of idealistic aspiration.

2. For those who don't recall, Prometheus was a Greek god, a protector of humans. He gave us fire. And, he tricked Zeus into agreeing that when animals were sacrificed to the gods, the best parts could be used by the humans and the gods would accept the remainder as sacrifice-in-full. In other words, he got the gods to give up something that would have otherwise belonged to them. At some point, it served Zeus' purpose to be angry with Prometheus and ordered Prometheus chained to a rock with an eagle forever pecking at his liver - expecting Prometheus to change his way, lessen Zeus' anger, and avoid that punishment. In an act of civil disobedience, Prometheus accepted his sentence and never submitted to Zeus. Hercules intervened and rescued Prometheus. (greekmythology.com/Titans/Prometheus/prometheus.html, accessed 2/14/2013)

3. Washburn, Sketch of Edward Coles (1882, reprinted 1920) p. 38.

4. This is a paraphrase from Coles' own description provided on p. 44 of Washburn's 1882 Sketchbook.

5. Two elderly slaves remained in Virginia because (A) they were believed too frail to withstand the rigors of the trip. Coles supported them for the remainder of their lives. Washburn's 1882 Sketchbook, pp. 42-37. And/or (B) Coles did not want to break-up families and one of the women was married to a slave belonging to Edward's mother and the other woman was the mother of an only-child who belonged also to Edward's mother. (Leichtle and Carveth, p. 59.)



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