Clio Logo

The Governor Coles State Memorial is a concrete memorial dedicated to Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois. The statue features a bronze portrait of Coles and is maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as a state historic site.


  • This memorial to the abolitionists Edward Coles was dedicated in 1929 and reflects the popularity of Art-Deco inspired designs during that era.
  • The memorial features a bronze image of Coles and an inscription that credits him for keeping slavery out of the Illinois Constitution.

Edward Coles was the second governor of Illinois and a leading abolitionist who helped defeat an attempt to legalize slavery in the state during the 1820s. Coles himself was once a Virginia slave owner, but he came to see the institution of slavery as immoral and freed his slaves at great financial cost. Representing those who opposed slavery, Coles won the 1822 gubernatorial election and then defeated an attempt to call a convention that would have revised the state constitution and legalized slavery in Illinois.