LOGAN. (1725?–1780). Indian leader in British service. Soyechtowa was probably born at the village of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, in 1725. He was the son of an Oneida chief named Shikellamy. As a young man he took the name of a close friend of his father's, James Logan (1674–1751), who was secretary to William Penn. Sometime in the 1760s Logan led his family and some followers to the upper Ohio River, where they settled outside the authority of the Iroquois Confederacy. In this new location, Logan's people became known as Mingoes. Unfortunately for these Indians, they lived in an area claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia. The latter state tried to make good on its claim by instigating an Indian war, assuming that the settlers would turn to the more bellicose province of Virginia for protection, rather than to the more pacifist Pennsylvania.
In the resulting conflict, known as Dunmore's War, 1774, a group of whites led by Michael Cresap attacked the Mingoes, even though they had a long history of friendship with the settlers. Thirteen unarmed Mingoes were killed. The massacre started the desired war, with Logan proving a particularly relentless enemy, taking at least 13 scalps in retribution. Logan's powerfully defiant response to Dunmore's eventual call for peace was made famous by Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on the State of Virginia (first published in Paris in 1787, reprinted in the United States at various times, beginning in 1800):
I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if he ever came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During the last long and bloody war [the Seven Years' War], Logan remained quiet in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen as they passed, said "Logan is the friend of white men." I had even thought to live with you, but for the injuries of one man, Colonel Cresap, who the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even 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 harbor 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!
The authenticity of Logan's message remains hotly contested.
When the Revolution started, Logan was fifty years old and treating his despair with alcohol. He sided with the British, but his role in the war was limited to his part in saving the life of Simon Kenton. He managed this by prevailing on a Canadian trader named Peter Druyer to ransom the condemned frontiersman and turn him over to the British at Detroit. A year later, in 1780, Logan was killed by a nephew during an argument.
Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. Baltimore, Md.: W. Pechin, 1800.
O'Donnell, Joseph H., III. "Logan's Oration: A Case Study in Ethnographic Authentication." Quarterly Journal of Speech 63 (April 1979): 150-156.
revised by Michael Bellesiles