John A. Logan: Political Leader of Little Egypt

Logan in 1859

Illustration of John A. Logan in 1859. From the Library of Congress.

In the years prior to the Civil War, Congressman John A. Logan had become a major political figure in Southern Illinois. Serving 18 Little Egypt counties and gaining incredible loyalty from the residents there Logan won the 1860 House of Representatives seat with 80% of the Democrat vote. (Morris p.xv-xvii) As a politician Logan was noted for his arguments against responding to the southern secession with force, and defending a proposal to disallow blacks to live in Illinois. (Cross)With extreme political power, and loyal districts, many were afraid that John Logan could raise a large number of men for the Confederate cause. In fact, Logan’s own brother-in-law Hibert A. Cunningham, was sure that Logan would pledge his support for the south.

John Logan and his family

John Logan as a politician, with his family. From the Library of Congress.

Two secessionists and Confederate officers who were from the same county as Logan (Williamson) recall meeting with him on May 4th 1861, where he told them he would be “joining them after he taking care of unfinished business.” (Gleeson p. 9) This meetings was later denied by Logan, but still helped spread the rumor that John Logan was raising a regiment for the Confederacy. Perhaps most strange of all was Logan’s silence in the year leading up to the war.

The last speech heard from John Logan was in Springfield, 1860, where he denied the right for any force to be used against the South, and blamed both radicals from the South, and especially the North for the situation at hand. (Cross) Worst of all, all writings from Logan during 1860-1861 have been completely removed, or censored from his memoirs so no official documents exist to tell the truth. At the time the state of Illinois waited anxiously to see which side the Little Egypt politician would choose. Today we are still left with a sense of mystery surrounding Logan’s true antebellum thoughts.