The American Indian leader who came to be called Logan was born in Pennsylvania circa 1725. His father was a Cayuga Indian named Shikellamy. Shikellamy later renamed his son after James Logan—a prominent Pennsylvanian and old friend. Logan grew up in Pennsylvania and came to view many whites as his friends. Chief among them was David Zeisberger, a missionary of the Moravian Church. Logan eventually married a Shawnee woman and moved to Ohio circa 1770.
He settled in Yellow Creek, a village of Mingo Indians. He became a war leader but continued to urge his fellow natives not to attack whites settling in the Ohio Country. His attitude changed on May 3, 1774, when a group of Virginia settlers murdered approximately one dozen Mingos. Among them were Logan's mother and sister. Logan demanded that the Mingos and their allies, principally the Shawnee Indians, revenge the deaths of his loved ones. Cornstalk, one of the main leaders of the Shawnees, still called for peace, but Logan ignored him. He conducted raids in western Pennsylvania, killing thirteen whites in retaliation for the Mingos' deaths. His attacks resulted in Lord Dunmore's War.
In August 1774, Pennsylvania militia entered the Ohio Country and quickly destroyed seven Mingo villages, which the Indians had abandoned as the soldiers approached. At the same time, John Murray, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, sent one thousand men to the Kanawha River in modern-day West Virginia to build a fort and attack the Shawnees. Cornstalk, who had experienced a change of heart toward the white colonists as the soldiers invaded the Ohio Country, dispatched nearly one thousand Shawnees to drive Dunmore's force from the region. The forces met on October 10, 1774 at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the English drove Cornstalk's followers north of the Ohio River. The two sides eventually met near Chillicothe to determine peace terms. Logan refused to attend but did send a speech known as "Logan's Lament." Simon Girty, an Englishman that the natives had kidnapped and then raised as one of their own, may have read it at the conference. It became one of the most famous speeches by a Native American in American history.
Logan spent the remainder of his life trying to prevent white settlers from moving into the Ohio Country. Cornstalk surrendered to the English in 1774, but Logan kept up his struggle. During the American Revolution, he continued to raid white settlements in Pennsylvania. Most accounts describe Logan as becoming despondent and turning to alcohol after his family's murder. He probably died around 1780.