James Logan (statesman)

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For other people of the same name, see James Logan (disambiguation).

James Logan (20 October 1674 – 31 October 1751), a statesman and scholar, was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, Ireland, of Scottish descent and Quaker parentage. In 1689, the Logan family moved to Bristol, England where, in 1693, James replaced his father as schoolmaster. In 1699, he came to the colony of Pennsylvania aboard the Canterbury as William Penn's secretary.[1]

Later, he supported proprietary rights in Pennsylvania. After advancing through several political offices, including commissioner of property (1701), receiver general (1703), clerk (1701), and member (1703) of the provincial council, he was elected Mayor of Philadelphia in 1722. During his tenure as mayor, Logan allowed Irish Catholic immigrants to participate in the city's first public Mass. He later served as the colony's chief justice from 1731 to 1739, and in the absence of a governor of Pennsylvania, became acting governor from 1736 to 1738.

He opposed Quaker pacifism and war tax resistance, and encouraged pacifist Quakers to give up their seats in the Pennsylvania Assembly so that it could make war requisitions.[2] On 9 October 1736 he responded to requests from Native American leaders to control the sale of alcohol, which was creating serious social problems, by prohibiting the sale of rum in indigenous communities,[3] but as the penalty was only a fine of ten pounds and the law was poorly enforced, it did not have a significant effect.[4]

Meanwhile, he engaged in various mercantile pursuits, especially fur trading, with such success that he became one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. He collected a personal library of over 3,000 volumes. He wrote numerous scholarly papers published by the American Philosophical Society and European journals.

Logan was also a natural scientist whose primary contribution to the emerging field of botany was a treatise that described experiments on the impregnation of plant seeds, especially corn. He tutored John Bartram, the American botanist, in Latin and introduced him to Linnaeus. He was also a mentor of Benjamin Franklin, who published Logan's translation of Cicero's essay "Cato Maior de Senectute".

Logan died in 1751 and was buried at the site of Arch Street Friends Meeting House (built in 1804).

In Philadelphia, the Logan neighbourhood and the landmark Logan Square are named for him. His 1730 estate "Stenton" (now a National Historic Landmark, operated as a museum) is located in Logan area.

Family[edit]

James Logan's daughter, Sarah, married Isaac Norris.

Colonial Bibliophile[edit]

While Logan would eventually become mayor of Philadelphia, chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, lieutenant governor, and acting governor he is perhaps best known, however, for being a bibliophile, confessing once that "Books are my disease".[5] Some commentators consider Logan’s library to have been the largest and best collection of classical writings in America at that time.[6]

Logan would in time become known to Benjamin Franklin and his "Junto", an influential group of friends that would meet weekly and discuss scholarly and political issues. Eventually, the Junto decided to establish a subscription library, a cooperative endeavour where members would pay a fee for use of the library.[7] Franklin and the other members of the Junto considered Logan the “best Judge of Books in these parts”[8] and chose him to select the first 43 titles for the Library Company of Philadelphia.[9]

At the same time Logan was helping to build the collection for the Library Company of Philadelphia, he was adding to his own personal library which was considered substantial in number and breadth.[10] He planned on donating his library for public use after his death and to this end he had a building constructed on Sixth Street in Philadelphia.[11] Upon Logan’s death, and after a lengthy delay due to some confusion in his will, through an act of the Pennsylvania Assembly and the governor on 31 Mar, I792, the 3,953 volumes and other property of the Loganian Library were "vested in the Library Company of Philadelphia, their successors and assigns, for ever, in trust for the support and increase of the said Loganian Library."[12]

The Loganian Library[edit]

The Loganian Library, as he wished it to be called,[13] was diverse. The catalogue of its final holdings is now lost but a partial inventory done in 1760 reveals a wide selection of books.[14] The book distribution by date reveals nothing out of the ordinary. Most were from the seventeenth century with 57 percent. Next came those from the eighteenth century at 27 percent. Finally, there was a good number from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries at 16 percent. The collection was mostly British and northern European with 33 percent from Britain; the Netherlands, 24 percent; Germany, 17 percent; France, 13 percent; Switzerland, 9 percent; Italy, 2 percent; and others (Scandinavia, Spain, Poland, Russia, America) at 2 percent[15]

The distribution of the books by subject in the 1760 catalogue is equally diverse with history, antiquities, geography, chronology, etc. at 22 percent. Religious subjects of divinity and ecclesiastical history constituted 15 percent. Scientific subjects such as "physick,” "mathematicks", and natural history was at 16 percent. Literary subjects such as orators, poets, fables, romances, etc. at 14 percent with philology at 13 percent. Philosophy, surprisingly, was only 6 percent while arts, liberal and mechanical, "magick,” etc. was 3 percent. The remaining subjects were as follows: medicine, surgery, and “chymistry,” 2 percent; law, 2 percent; voyages and travels, 1 percent; philosophical history, 1 percent, and miscellaneous, 5 percent.[16]

Logan’s library contained many 17th and 16th century classical works such as a 1615 edition of Archimedes’ works, the mathematical treatise of Pappus of Alexandria printed in 1660, an Aratus of Soles from 1672, Elzevir’s architecture publication of 1649 from Amsterdam, Johann Vossius’ De Quatuar Artibus Popularibus published in 1650, and a 1599 edition of astronomy edited by Barthelemy Pitiscus[17] In one famous episode, Logan was reading a treatise on early astronomy by Johann Fabricius and read that the first printed edition of Greek astronomer Ptolemy’s Almagest was printed in Greek in1538. Logan was certain that it was released in an earlier Latin version, having sold it and his other books in Dublin before he left in 1699. Logan wrote Fabricius and politely explained his conviction. In reply, Fabricius reaffirmed his contention and sent his own 1538 copy as proof. Unconvinced, Logan wrote his agent in London, explaining that he had sold his library to a bookseller who lived on Castle Street and to see if he knew of the book’s location. His agent was successful in finding the book and sent to Logan where it was confirmed that it was a Latin edition of the Almagest published in 1515.[18] Such was the strength of Logan’s bibliographic mind as professed by Benjamin Franklin.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Keith, Charles Penrose (1997), The provincial counsilors of Pennsylvania, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., p. 6: "They [William Penn and James Logan] sailed from Cowes on September 9th, 1699, in the Canterbury. On the way over, the ship was attacked by pirates, and Logan took part in the defence of it...The pirates were beaten off."
  2. ^ Gross, David M. American Quaker War Tax Resistance (2008) pp. 45–52 ISBN 1-4382-6015-6
  3. ^ Samuel Hazard, ed. Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania: From the Organization to the Termination of the Proprietary Government, Mar. 10, 1683-Sept. 27, 1775, Vol 4 of Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Provincial Council, Pennsylvania Committee of Safety; J. Severns, 1851.
  4. ^ Peter C. Mancall, Deadly Medicine: Indians and Alcohol in Early America, Cornell University Press, 1997. ISBN 0801480442
  5. ^ Basbanes, N. (1995). A gentle madness. New York: Henry Holt & Co., p. 130.
  6. ^ Wolf, E. (1955). The early buying policy of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Wilson library quarterly, 55: 316–318; Farren, D. (1976). The library of James Logan of Philadelphia, 1674–1751 by Edwin Wolf [book review]. The library quarterly, 46:65–69.
  7. ^ Sable, M. H. (1987). The Library Company of Philadelphia: Historical survey, bibliography, chronology. International library review, 18:29–46.
  8. ^ Wolf, E. (1967). James Logan, Bookman Extraordinary. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 79:33–46, p. 33.
  9. ^ Sable, 1987, p. 32
  10. ^ Wolf, 1967, p. 33; Sable, 1987, p. 32
  11. ^ Sable, 1987, p. 32
  12. ^ Wolf, E. (1956). The romance of James Logan's Books. The William and Mary quarterly, 3: 342–353, p. 349, fn. 32.
  13. ^ Basbanes, 1995, p. 135
  14. ^ Wolf, 1967, p. 35
  15. ^ Farren, D. (1976). The library of James Logan of Philadelphia, 1674–1751 by Edwin Wolf [book review]. The library quarterly, 46:65–69.
  16. ^ Farren, 1976
  17. ^ Wolf, 1967, pp. 35–37
  18. ^ Basbanes, 1995, pp. 132–133

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
David Lloyd
Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
1731–1739
Succeeded by
Jeremiah Langhorne
Political offices
Preceded by
William Fishbourn
Mayor of Philadelphia
1722–1723
Succeeded by
Clement Plumsted