Logan's Speech (1774)
LOGAN'S SPEECH (1774)
The atmosphere of the Ohio River valley in the years before the American War for Independence featured atrocities committed on both sides by American settlers and Indian warriors. Logan, or Tahgahjute, was a Mingo chief who sought revenge for the gruesome torture and murder of his family by vengeful Americans on the Ohio River in 1773. A year later Logan led Shawnee and Mingo raiders to the Clinch River settlements in Kentucky, where after some minor successes, they were defeated. Logan, overwhelmed with the desire for vengeance, refused to surrender.
Logan's letter points out the friendship that once existed between the Mingo tribe and British Americans. The code of hospitality was extremely important to Indians, and they expected the like in return. But war had existed for so long in the trans-Appalachian region between French, English, Indians, and Americans, that memories of wrongs committed against friends and families smoldered beneath periods of apparent calm, only to erupt once again into violence.
IN THE SPRING of the year 1774, a robbery was committed by some Indians on certain land adventurers on the River Ohio. The whites in that quarter, according to their custom, undertook to punish this outrage in a summary way. Captain Michael Cresap, and a certain Daniel Greathouse, leading on these parties, surprized, at different times, travelling and hunting parties of the Indians, having their women and children with them, and murdered many. Among these were unfortunately the family of Logan, a chief celebrated in peace and war, and long distinguished as the friend of the whites. This unworthy return provoked his vengeance. He accordingly signalized himself in the war which ensued. In the autumn of the same year a decisive battle was fought at the mouth of the Great Kanhaway, between the collected forces of the Shawanese, Mingoes and Delawares, and a detachment of the Virginia militia. The Indians were defeated and sued for peace. Logan, however, disdained to be seen among the suppliants. But lest the sincerity of a treaty should be distrusted, from which so distinguished a chief absented himself, he sent, by a messenger [General Gibson], the following speech, to be delivered to lord Dunmore.
I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat: if ever he came cold and naked, and he cloathed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, 'Logan is the friend of white man.' I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it: I have killed many: I have fully glutted my vengeance: for my country I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbour a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan?—Not one.
SOURCE: Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. With an Appendix Relative to the Murder of Logan's Family. Trenton, N. J.: Wilson & Blackwell, 1803.