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Saturday, May 25

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This week's question was suggested by Brian. Thank you.

Q: Who is Logan Square named after?

The name Logan Square specifically refers to the square at the intersection of Logan Blvd., Kedzie, and Milwaukee Avenue, but the neighborhood that takes its name from this square is broadly defined as extending from Pulaski on the west to Western on the east and from Diversey in the north to Armitage in the south. Logan Boulevard, and, in turn, Logan Square, was named after Civil War general and Illinois politician John Alexander Logan.

John Logan was born in 1826 in Murphysboro, IL in downstate Jackson County. He was the oldest of eleven children, and his father, a doctor, was an immigrant from northern Ireland.

Logan received no formal education until his teens when his father sent him to Shiloh Academy at Shiloh Hill, IL. He studied there for three years before leaving in 1847 to volunteer to serve in the Mexican-American War. After the war he returned to Illinois, where he began his political career when he was elected Jackson County Clerk in 1849. He resigned in 1851 to go back to school, earning his law degree at Louisville University.

His political career began in earnest when he was elected as a Democrat to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1852. He served several terms before being elected as a U.S. Representative in 1858 and again in 1860.

When the Civil War began, Logan fought at the first battle of Bull Run in 1861 as an unenlisted volunteer. After the battle, he resigned his congressional seat and entered the Union army despite the divided loyalties of southern Illinois residents. He was made colonel of the 31st Illinois Infantry, served at Fort Donelson in 1862 and was instrumental in the capture of Vicksburg in 1863. After the death of James McPherson, Logan briefly commanded the Army of the Tennessee during the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

After the war, Logan returned to politics, this time as a Republican. As a U.S. Representative again from 1867-71, John Logan was one of the House managers during the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Then, from 1871-77 and from 1880 until his death in 1886, he served as a U.S. Senator from Illinois. Rounding out his political career, Logan was also a Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in 1884, running with James Blaine.

Today, however, Logan may be best remembered as the founder of Memorial Day. After the Civil War, Logan was a staunch supporter of legislation for veterans. As co-founder and president of the Grand Army of the Republic, a powerful veterans association, Logan issued General Order No. 11 mandating the observance of Memorial Day for the first time on May 30, 1868.

John Logan died in 1886 in Washington DC.

Back home in Chicago, a bronze equestrian statue of General Logan is located in Grant Park at Michigan Avenue and 9th Street. It was commissioned by the Illinois Legislature and unveiled in the park on July 22, 1897. The statue, which is about 16 feet tall without the pedestal, was designed by artists Augustus Saint-Gardens and Alexander Phimster Proctor. However, the bronze figure of General Logan trumphantly holding aloft an "enemy banner" is probably most well-known for the accidental role it played in 1968 when demonstrators swarmed the statue in Grant Park during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. As a result, the statue of Logan features prominently in many well-known photographs of the protests (exhibits A, B).

Finally, if you are traveling downstate and want to learn more about General Logan (and who doesn't?), be sure to stop by the John A. Logan Museum located in his hometown of Murphysboro, IL.

Have a topic you would like to see in "Ask the Librarian"? Send your suggestions to librarian@gapersblock and it may be featured in a future column.

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Comments

brian / January 2, 2004 9:40 AM

Wow, Alice. Thank you. Odd that a neighborhood in Chicago would be named after a Republican, no?

amyc / January 2, 2004 11:34 AM

Well, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and there's lots of stuff named after him. Back then it meant something completely different.

Ramsin / January 2, 2004 1:58 PM

Wow, what a guy. I'm glad we have a square named for him. My goodness, the things you know.

Bren / January 2, 2004 5:08 PM

I had no idea Logan Square was named after John A. Logan. I grew up between Murphysboro and Carbondale, IL (1968-1986), and John A. Logan's is immediately familiar to anyone from that hood, as about a quarter of all high school grads in the Carbondale area attend John A. Logan Community College, which is located just a few miles east of Carbondale (and Southern Illinois University). Thanks for the awesome research.

Brent / January 2, 2004 5:08 PM

I had no idea Logan Square was named after John A. Logan. I grew up between Murphysboro and Carbondale, IL (1968-1986), and John A. Logan's is immediately familiar to anyone from that hood, as about a quarter of all high school grads in the Carbondale area attend John A. Logan Community College, which is located just a few miles east of Carbondale (and Southern Illinois University). Thanks for the awesome research.

Alice / January 2, 2004 7:42 PM

Thanks very much, guys. I'm glad you liked it, and I appreciate you all for taking the time to let me know. Thanks.

Also, if I can put on my librarian's hat for a moment...if anyone is interested in learning more about Chicago's Civil War connections, there's an interesting new book out by Arnie Bernstein titled, appropriately, The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections. You might want to check it out.

 

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