Edwards was born in Stafford County, Virginia and move to Fayette County to start a plantation in what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky around 1780. He represented his county in the Virginia House of Delegates in several years and was part of the commission that determined the borders for Kentucky in 1788. In 1792 he was a delegate to the convention that drafted the first constitution for the new state, and when statehood was accomplished he and John Brown were the first U.S. Senators for Kentucky.
After his term as a senator he served in both houses of the state legislature. He died on his plantation and was buried in the family graveyard near Paris, Kentucky.