James Logan and the Networks of Atlantic Culture and Politics, 1699-1751

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James Logan and the Networks of Atlantic Culture and Politics, 1699-1751

Thursday, 9/18/14 10:00 pm - Saturday, 9/20/14 9:30 pm

Event Type


This three-day conference explores the life of James Logan, who would become mayor of Philadelphia, chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and lieutenant governor. Co-sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Stenton, and The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

About James Logan


James Logan (1674-1751) served as Provincial Secretary to the Penn family, studied the sexuality of plants, mentored Benjamin Franklin and John Bartram, served as Mayor of Philadelphia and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, and shaped his province’s relationships with Native Americans. Logan traded furs, owned slaves, and was a gentleman-merchant, book collector, and scholar in Philadelphia in the decades that the colonial metropole became one of the most populous and cosmopolitan port cities in British North America.

Logan amassed a wealth of documentary resources as well as material goods during his multi-faceted career. Logan’s nearly 3,000-volume library remains intact at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania archives include numerous papers and collections related to his activities, and The National Society of The Colonial Dames in America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania preserves his house, Stenton. These materials offer textured glimpses into his world, and opportunities for scholars of diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

In short, Logan’s vast political, trade and knowledge networks provide a lens for examination of numerous facets of the Atlantic World in the first half of the eighteenth century. This conference is an effort to consider Logan’s milieu in the widest possible way, via an international, interdisciplinary gathering focused on reconsidering not only Logan but also early Pennsylvania culture in an Atlantic World context.

During the conference, Stenton will debut “Stenton Reassembled: A Reunion of James Logan's Furnishings,” a year-long loan exhibition supported by generous grant from the Richard C. von Hess Foundation. “Stenton Reassembled” builds on Stenton’s Room Furnishings Study and will bring together an extraordinary group of Logan objects from both private and museum collections, most of which have never been exhibited at Stenton and have not previously been exhibited together. Participants and attendees will have an opportunity to tour the exhibit, and other parts of Stenton, when the conference convenes there on Saturday, September 20.

Conference Program

Thursday, September 18, 2014                          

5:00 p.m. Registration and Exhibition of Manuscripts with light wine and cheese at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street

5:30-6:30 p.m. Welcome and Keynote – Anthony Grafton, Princeton University, at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street

6:30–7:30 p.m. Heavy hors d’oeuvres in the Logan Room and Exhibition of Books at the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street

Friday, September 19, 2014

All Friday events will take place at the McNeil Center, 3355 Woodland Walk

9:00–9:30 a.m. Registration and Coffee                                                     

9:30–10:15 a.m. Catharine Dann Roeber, Winterthur Museum -"The Budding Polymath: James Logan’s Rise to Pennsylvania Prominence"                                                

10:15–10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Panel I – “Ideas”

Chair: James N. Green, Library Company of Philadelphia


  • Philip Valenti, Independent Scholar, "Of the Duties of Man: James Logan's Challenge to British Philosophy"
  • John Dixon, College of Staten Island, "Scottish Newtonianism, Philadelphian Politics, and a Theory of the Animal Oeconomy"
  • Stuart M. McManus, Harvard University, "Globalizing James Logan: Humanist Culture and the Republic of Letters in Colonial Philadelphia and the Philippines"
  • Comment: Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

12:00–1:30 p.m. Lunch (not provided)   

1:30–3:00 p.m. Panel II – “Leaves"

Chair: Robert McCracken Peck, Academy of Natural Sciences


  • Kenneth Finkel, Temple University, "Joseph Breintnall's Leaf Prints"
  • Joel T. Fry, Bartram's Garden, "Jogging Along With and Without James Logan: Early Plant Science in Philadelphia"
  • Comment: David Hewitt, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

3:00–3:15 p.m. Break                                                          

3:15–4:45 p.m. Panel III – “Labor, Economics, Trade and Politics”                                               

Chair: Wayne Bodle, Indiana University of Pennsylvania


  • Alyssa Zuercher Reichardt, Yale University, "To Feed the Empire: James Logan, the Walking Purchase, and Visions of British Political Economy"
  • Michael Goode, Utah Valley University, "James Logan's Empire of Goods: Violence, Colonialism, and Pennsylvania’s Eighteenth-Century Consumer Revolution"
  • Laura E. Johnson, Historic New England, "'To Account of Indian Merchandise': The Material World of James Logan's Indian Trade"
  • Peter Kotowski, Loyola University Chicago, "'Addicted Themselves to Pleasure and Effeminacy': William Penn, Quaker Ethics, and Unfree Labor in Early Pennsylvania"
  • Comment: Daniel K. Richter, University of Pennsylvania and McNeil Center for Early American Studies

5:00-6:00 p.m. Reception, McNeil Center

Saturday, September 20, 2014

All Saturday events will take place at Stenton, 4601 N 18th Street

8:15 a.m. Bus departs Club Quarters for Stenton

9:00-9:30 a.m. Coffee

9:30–10:15 a.m. Bernie Herman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Ambition, Aesthetics, and Affect in the Material World of James and Sarah Logans' Stenton"

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break

10:30–12:00 p.m. Panel IV – “Houses”                                           

Chair: Robert Blair St. George, University of Pennsylvania


  • Stephen Hague, Rowan University, "Imperial Houses in the British Atlantic World"
  • Laura C. Keim, Stenton Museum,  "James Logan and his World of Goods: Atlantic Identity Deconstructed at Stenton"
  • Nicole Belolan, University of Delaware, "A Bed in the Parlor: James Logan and Navigating Disability in Early America"
  • Comment: Jennifer Van Horn, George Mason University

12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00–2:30 p.m. Panel V – “Landscape”                                           

Chair: Aaron Wunsch, University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Historic Preservation


  • Deborah Miller, Stenton Museum
  • Sarah Chesney, Stenton Museum
  • Dennis S. Pickeral, Stenton Museum

2:30–2:45 p.m. Break

2:45–3:30 p.m. James N. Green, The Library Company of Philadelphia-
“Logan’s Library: Access to and Storage of Books and Papers”

3:30-4:15 p.m. Tours of House and Grounds

4:15-4:35 p.m. Closing Remarks, Gary Nash, University of California, Los Angeles- “The Importance of James Logan"