Thursday, August 22, 2013

John Alexander Logan Monument

John Alexander Logan Monument, 1897
Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Alexander Phimister Proctor
Grant Park
East of South Michigan Avenue at East 9th Street

             General John A. Logan (1826-1886) enjoyed a storied military and political career. He volunteered in the Mexican-American War (1846-47), practiced law, served several terms as a Democratic Illinois State Representative and Congressman, worked his way from rank of colonel to General during the U.S. Civil War, returned to Congress as a Republican following the war, headed the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Army veterans, and recommended the establishment of Decoration (now Memorial) Day, first observed on May 30, 1868.
            Not long after his death, the Illinois legislature appropriated $50,000 for a memorial for Logan and the South Park Commission contributed the site and the granite foundation. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, acclaimed sculptor responsible for the “Standing Lincoln” in Chicago, created the figure of Logan and Alexander P. Proctor sculpted the horse. A native of Canada who grew up in Colorado, Proctor had created several animals of the American wilderness for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and his work was noticed by Saint-Gaudens, who was in charge of the sculpture at the fair. Both men had studied art in Paris and worked in a naturalistic Beaux Arts style.
            Logan is depicted with flag in hand, as if in the act of rallying his troops. The work is situated atop a mound containing a burial vault that remains empty, as plans to move his body from Washington, D.C. along with his wife’s body after her death were never realized. Stanford White designed the site and was a frequent collaborator with Saint-Gaudens.
            The monument has been the site of a wreath-laying ceremony held prior to the city’s annual Memorial Day parade, recalling Logan’s sponsorship of the holiday. The statue achieved a different sort of notoriety during the Chicago Riots of 1968. On August 26th, following the arrest of Tom Hayden and others, approximately 1000 protestors marched toward Police headquarters at 11th and State, only to be thwarted by officers surrounding the building. The march turned toward Grant Park and protestors swarmed the Logan statue. News cameras recorded the events as police attacked protestors in an attempt to clear the hill.

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