But what of JOHN A. LOGAN? I will tell you. If there is any statesman on this continent, now in public life, to whose courage, justice and fidelity, 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. Since [Charles] Sumner and [Oliver. P.] Morton, no man has been bolder and truer to the cause of the colored man and to the country, than has JOHN A. LOGAN. There is no nonsense about him. I endorse him to you with all my might, mind, and strength, and without a single shadow of doubt.
— Frederick Douglass endorsement of John Logan during the 1884 presidential election
Logan began his political career as a “Stephen Douglas Democrat” from southern Illinois. He did much as a state legislator to advocate for strong “Black Codes,” then went on to serve in Congress from 1859-1862. He resigned to take up the colonelcy of the 31st Illinois volunteers, and through his political influence as a War Democrat as well as through actual talent on the battlefield, he eventually worked his way to command of the Union XV Corps.
During his service, Logan experienced a profound conversion in his attitudes about race. His service in Tennessee, said a newspaper article in the summer of ’62, showed him first hand that slavery was a “cursed institution, and hoped never to sheathe the sword until it was thoroughly wiped out.”
After the war, Logan returned to Congress in 1866 as a Republican. He served two terms as a U.S. Congressman and three terms as a U.S. Senator. During that time, he strongly advocated for the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. He also served as the second president of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans organization, and in that capacity is often credited as being a founder of what has become known as Memorial Day.
In 1884, Logan ran for vice president on the ticket with James G. Blaine of Maine; they lost to Grover Cleveland and Thomas Hendricks. Logan would not have the opportunity to make a second run. He died on December 26, 1886.
Learn more about Logan at the John A. Logan Museum in his hometown of Murphysboro, Illinois.