Who Was Logan?

“John A. Logan may be the most noteworthy nineteenth century American to escape notice in the twenty-first century.”
– Historian Gary Ecelbarger

John A. Logan was one of General Grant’s favorite officers and remained his lifelong friend. Mark Twain found him to be a “mighty stirring” public speaker and he was one of Illinois most powerful senators. Logan supported Slavery in the South but after the Civil War became a staunch advocate for African American Civil Rights. In addition, he founded Memorial Day as a national holiday. Logan is even named, along with Lincoln and Grant in Illinois state song. Despite all of this, not many people today know the important part Logan played in American history.

Timeline of Logan's Life

What pushed John A. Logan from becoming Abraham Lincoln’s bitter rival to campaigning for Lincoln’s re-election? How does an avid racist and author of Illinois’ Black Laws become an advocate for African American Civil Rights and education? Visit the General John A. Logan Museum and maybe you will better understand why Frederick Douglas said of Logan that there was no public official, “I would more fully and unreservedly trust the cause of the colored people of this country, or the cause of any other people, I do not know him.”

On February 9, 1826, John Alexander Logan is born at home in what is now Murphysboro, Illinois.


Logan marches off to the Mexican-American War, a clerk with the First Illinois Infantry. He meets his future wife, the young daughter of his commanding officer.


Logan is elected Clerk of Jackson County, Illinois.


Logan receives Law Degree from the Louisville University and becomes the prosecuting attorney of the Third Judicial District Circuit Court.


The Fifth District elects Logan as their representative in the Illinois Legislature.


Mary Cunningham says, “I do” as she and John A. Logan become life-long partners.


The Ninth District elects Logan to the Federal House of Representatives. He is elected to a second term in 1860

1861 – 1865

The Civil War begins. Logan leaves his seat in the House of Representatives to become a Union Colonel. From Colonel to Major General he climbs the ranks playing a pivotal role in a dozen battles including: Belmont, Fort Donaldson, Thompson Hill, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, Vicksburg, Resaca, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Ezra Church.


After the war Logan returns to an at-large seat in Congress as a Republican.


Logan, as Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issues Gen. Order No. 11 establishing Memorial Day as a national holiday.


Logan becomes a United States Senator and moves to Chicago.


Logan is nominated as the Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate; running with James Blaine from Maine, they loose to Grover Cleveland.


Logan wins a third term as U.S. Senator.


John A. Logan died at his home, Calumet Place, in Washington D.C.