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trons, and in the main, they were of a very inferior grade. Later free schools were established by law throughout this and most other free states, so that in 1864, at the time of “George's” death, there was no necessity for him to follow the example of his former master, and provide for the free education of "white" children, for the reason that they were already duly provided for by law.
At that time, the civil war was at its most critical stage. Millions of soldiers were arrayed in deadly conflict, contending for the mastery. The Union forces were striving to re-establish the national authority throughout the slave states, and their enemies were contending for the establishment of those states as an independent government.
There were four million slaves in those states, and the perpetuation of “African slavery” was one of the foundation principles in the constitution of the new government sought to be established therein. There was not a free school for the education of “colored” children in all of that territory and “George” was well aware of that fact.
President Lincoln had issued his Emancipation Proclamation, January 1st, 1863, which, in the event of the success of the Union army, would set all of those slaves free; but in case their enemies were successful, that Proclamation would have been wholly futile.
These were the conditions existing at the time of “George's" last illness and death. He must act, in the disposition of his estate, with reference to the conditions then existing. After mature consideration, he determined, so far as possible, to follow the example of his former master and devote the substance of his estate to the establishment of a fund for the education of the people of his own race. Since the organization and operation of this fund there has been a large number of colored persons, male and female, assisted through college courses, and thereby have become ministers, physi
cians, lawyers, teachers, etc., and who have been, and still are, devoting their lives to assisting their own people in fitting themselves to intelligently and honorably occupy the position of "American Freemen," and this work will continue through coming generations. The work possible to be accomplished by this fund might seem to be small, when compared to the magnitude of the needs of the race to be supplied, but might it not be possible that in the future some of the many people of wealth, seeking an opportunity to accomplish the greatest amount of good to a race of people, and thereby honor and perpetuate the memories of themselves or others, may make additions to this fund, so that it may become one of the most successful and beneficent charitable institutions of the age?
Regardless of whether this result be reached or not, the fame, honor, nobility and wisdom of the subject of this sketch is secure, and thousands of his race will rise up to call his name blessed. It is hoped that a careful study and consideration of the life and character of “George Washington” and the motives and principles that governed and actuated his life, and the good that he has accomplished, may be an incentive to many of his people to follow in his footsteps and emulate his example.
“Lives of great men all remind us
Be a hero in the strife.”
GOVERNOR COLES' AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
LETTER FROM GOVERNOR EDWARD COLES TO THE LATE SENATOR W. C. FLAGG-EARLY SETTLEMENTS IN MADISON
COUNTY. Honorable N. G. Flagg of Moro hands us the following autograph letter to his father, the late Senator W. C. Flagg, from Governor Coles, under date of March, 1861. It seems at that time, Mr. Flagg, Sr., was engaged in collecting data of the early settlement of Madison county, and wrote to Governor Coles, then living in Philadelphia, for certain information and for facts concerning himself. The letter is a valuable contribution to the early history of Illinois from one of the chief actors therein. It is as follows:
PHILADELPHIA, March 28, 1861. DEAR SIR-A pleuritic attack and other afflictions have prevented, and will prevent, my making as speedy and full an answer as I would otherwise have done to your letter of the 1st inst., in which was enclosed a printed circular containing enquiries from a committee of which you are a member, appointed by the Illinois Historical Society to collect information of the county of Madison. This I regret not being able to do in a full and satisfactory manner, in consequence of the state of my health, and, above all, from the want of access here to documents which would refresh my memory, and enable me to conform more explicitly to your request. In this state of things I can only say, in marrying a Philadelphia lady in 1933, I was induced to change my Illinois residence for