John Logan

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John A. Logan
John A. Logan portrait.png
Former U.S. Senator from Illinois
From: March 4, 1879 – December 26, 1886
Predecessor Richard Oglesby
Successor Charles B. Farwell
Former U.S. Senator from Illinois
From: March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1877
Predecessor Richard Yates
Successor David Davis
Former U.S. Representative from Illinois's At-Large Congressional District
From: March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1871
Predecessor Samuel W. Moulton
Successor John Lourie Beveridge
Former U.S. Representative from Illinois's 9th Congressional District
From: March 4, 1859 – April 2, 1862
Predecessor Samuel S. Marshall
Successor William Allen
Former U.S. Representative from Illinois's 5th Congressional District
From: January 5, 1857 – January 3, 1859
Predecessor Thomas M. Sans
Successor James Hampton
Party Democrat (until 1867)
Republican (since 1867)
Spouse(s) Mary Simmerson
Religion Methodist
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army (Mexican-American War)
• Union Army (Civil War)
Service Years • 1847–1848 (U.S. Army)
• 1861–1865 (Union Army)
Rank Major General
Commands XV Corps
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

John Alexander Logan, Sr. (February 9, 1826 – December 26, 1886), also known as Black Jack,[1] was an American General and a prominent Democrat-turned-Republican politician. He participated in the Mexican–American War and served in the Union Army in the American Civil War. Logan was later a U.S. senator from Illinois and candidate for Vice President of the United States during the 1884 presidential election.

Logan's name is mentioned in the Illinois State Song.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. [1]

The holiday was first observed on May 30, 1868, and Gen. Logan chose that date for two very important reasons: First, the day did not mark the anniversary of a Civil War battle, and second "flowers would likely be in bloom all over the United States." Indeed, many took flowers to Arlington National Cemetery, an activity that still occurs every year. [2]

Political career

Gen. John Logan.

Until the 1860s, Logan was a registered member of the Democratic Party who was in line with Jacksonian policies,[1] though later became a Republican out of support for the policies of the Radical Republicans.[2] He held a disdain for the Confederacy, forcefully denouncing them as traitors who instigated bloodshed and chaos.

Logan was a fierce advocate of ensuring and protecting the constitutional rights of blacks against Democrat infringements, fighting based on personal moral convictions. In spite of historical revisionism which suggests that this was merely political opportunism, Logan's vocal support for black suffrage had little to profit from.[3] According to his biography John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois:

In the last years of his career, no white American in elective office was more admired and none hailed more often as a staunch friend of black Americans than John A. Logan.

—Jones, p. xi

In addition, Logan fought civil service reform, favoring the traditional spoils system to maintain the patronage necessary to sustain his statewide political organization in Illinois.[3] Although smeared by some as a "crooked politician," no evidence exists to prove that he was involved in scandals during the Gilded Age.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives

Logan was first elected to Congress in the 1858 midterms and in 1860 as a Democrat,[5] and later elected yet again from Illinois' at-large congressional district in the 1866 midterms[1] by sixteen percentage points.[6] He was re-elected in 1868[7] and 1870,[8] with considerably narrower victory margins of 11% and 8% respectively.

In the House, Logan emerged as an avid ally of Radical Republicans, frequently being quick to denounce Democrats as traitorous Confederates and Copperheads who dragged the nation into misery;[9] this tactic was known as "waving the bloody shirt." Logan furthermore stated on voting rights for blacks:[9]

Now I want some Democrat to give a reason why the Negro should not vote. I have read their speeches, and all they say is, "we don't want the n***** to vote" and turn up their noses as they say it. A gentleman from Congress from your state says the Negro does not belong to the human species. But they are are made the same as you and I; but they are black—that is all the difference. If they were not made by the hand of God, I would like to know by whom they were made... If you won't allow a man to vote because he has black skin, you have the right to say that I shall not vote because I have black hair. I don't care whether a man is black, red, blue, or white.


At one point, a bill providing a million dollars in relief to destitute Southerners prompted debate in the House chamber. Logan and fellow Radical Republican Benjamin F. "Ben" Butler of Massachusetts opposed the legislation on the grounds that it would designate pensions for soldiers in the Confederate military.[10] Basing his stance on both the "bloody shirt" political style in addition to opposing federal action pertaining to state relief, Logan stated:

Although there are many poor people in the Northwest, we do not understand that we have a right to come to Congress to be fed.

—Logan, late 1870s

Johnson impeachment

President Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat who succeeded Lincoln as U.S. president, was opposed by Logan for opposing the Radical Republicans' Reconstruction efforts.[11] After Johnson fired Edwin M. Stanton in violation of the Tenure of Office Act, Logan helped lead the impeachment proceedings against the president.[12] Citing both British and American precedents, he argued mostly on constitutional grounds in defense of the Tenure of Office Act, only "waving the bloody shirt" in his speech conclusion.[13]

Although impeached by the House, Johnson would be acquitted by the U.S. Senate due to the defections of several Republicans.

1868 presidential election

In the 1868 presidential election, Logan supported Ulysses S. Grant, also a General of the Union Army.[14] For the vice presidential nomination, the contest was between Radical Republicans Benjamin "Bluff Ben" Wade of Ohio and Schuyler Colfax of Indiana.

Logan supported nominating Wade, who was viewed with suspicion by other Republicans due to his support for higher protective tariffs and a "soft" monetary policy.[14] However, he also maintained cordial relations with Colfax, who was ultimately nominated to be Grant's running mate. The GOP ticket then won the general election in November, handing a defeat for the Democrats.

Logan defends the spoils system

Stalwart Republicans



Other members:

Related topics:

Following the 1868 results, Logan returned to Washington, D.C. for the lame duck session before Grant would take office.[15] During the Grant presidency, he opposed efforts to enact civil service reform, railing against a bill introduced by fellow Republican Thomas Jenckes of Rhode Island to enact such as being:

...bad in theory, wrong in principle, opposed to the genius and spirit of our institutions and our people, and probably unconstitutional.


Feud between Wade and Butler

Sen. Wade on one occasion as president pro tempore was criticized for the manner in which he counted presidential electoral votes, and was faced with an introduced censure resolution by Rep. Butler.[16] Logan, who was angry at Butler, outspokenly defended Wade and lauded his public service as "the vanguard of liberty and freedom." His speech received a substantial applause, and Wade later thanked him:[17]

Logan, God bless you. I have come here to thank you for coming to my rescue today.

—Benjamin F. "Bluff" Wade

Opposition towards high tariffs

Unlike many Republicans, Logan did not favor a higher level of protective tariffs aimed at benefiting domestic business interests.[18] Advocating on behalf of farmer interests, he quarreled with colleague William "Pig Iron" Kelley of Pennsylvania over a bill and argued that protectionism did not aid the "laboring man." When lamented by Kelly of being unhelpful for the GOP, Logan retorted:[18]

In my section of the country this is not regarded as a party question.


Rep. Robert Schenck, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, implied that Logan lacked a full understanding on the issue of tariffs, and elicited the Illinois congressman's following reaction:[18]

...the gentleman takes occasion all the time to 'pitch into' me, because I have... offered amendments to the bill.

Logan further referred to the tariff as an "atrocity" and Schenck denounced his forceful opposition towards the bill, which was described as "kicked to death by grasshoppers."[18]


Major General John A. Logan.png

Logan at a Memorial Day address in DuQuoin, Illinois honored veterans of the Union military as men who:[19]

...fought not only for the protection of our flag, but also for the preservation and perpetuation of Christianity in this land, for Christianity cannot long flourish where liberty is destroyed.

—Logan at Southern Illinois College


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 John A. Logan. American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  2. Jones, John Pickett (1982). John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 2–3. Google Books. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. xi.
  4. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. x.
  5. Candidate - John Alexander Logan. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  6. IL At-Large Race - Nov 06, 1866. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  7. IL At-Large Race - Nov 03, 1868. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  8. IL At-Large Race - Nov 08, 1870. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, pp. 9–10.
  10. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 6.
  11. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 16
  12. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 22–23.
  13. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 25.
  14. 14.0 14.1 John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 27.
  15. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 33–34.
  16. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 34.
  17. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 35.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 41–42.
  19. John A. Logan: Stalwart Republican from Illinois, p. 36–37.

External links