Image description: Autobiography of Edward Coles Sr. (1786-1868) written in his own hand. Born in Albemarle County, Virginia, Edward Coles studied at both Hampton Sidney College and the College of William and Mary and served as a special secretary to fellow Virginian President James Madison, as well as an envoy to Russia. A staunch abolitionist, Coles worked against the legalization of slavery in Illinois and served as the state's governor from 1822-1826. During a tumultuous tenure as governor, Coles successfully blocked a proposed constitutional ammendment to legalize slavery in Illinois, arguing that allowing slavery in the state would hurt average farmers. Disillusioned with politics, Coles moved to Philadelphia in 1832, where he lived out his days in semi-retirement until his death in 1868.