Lewis Tappan (1788 - 1873)

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Death: Died
Occupation: Abolitionist
Managed by: Natasha Loeblich
Last Updated:

About Lewis Tappan

Lewis Tappan (1788 - 1873) was a New York abolitionist who worked to achieve the freedom of the illegally enslaved Africans of the Amistad. Contacted by Connecticut abolitionists soon after the Amistad arrived in port, Tappan focused extensively on the captive Africans. He ensured the acquisition of high-quality lawyers for the captives, which led to their being set free after the case went to the United States Supreme Court. With his brother Arthur, Tappan not only gained legal help and acquittal for the Africans, but he also managed to increase public support and fundraising. Finally, he organized the return trip home to Africa for surviving members of the group. In addition, Tappan was among the founders of the American Missionary Association in 1846, which began more than 100 anti-slavery Congregational churches throughout the Midwest, and after the American Civil War, founded numerous schools and colleges to aid in the education of freedmen.

Lewis Tappan was the brother of Senator Benjamin Tappan and abolitionist Arthur Tappan. His middle-class parents were strict Calvinists. Once Lewis was old enough to work, he helped his father in a dry goods store. On his sixteenth birthday, Lewis joined other areas of commerce, and, ultimately he started The Mercantile agency in 1841 in New York City. The Mercantile agency was the precursor to Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) and modern credit reporting services. (D&B is a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-listed company still in existence today.) Convinced by Arthur to read a biography on William Wilberforce, who led the cause for abolition in Great Britain, Tappan started his quest for abolition in the United States. He is well known for his work to free the Africans from the Spanish ship Amistad.

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Lewis Tappan's Timeline

1788
May 23, 1788
1873
June 21, 1873
Age 85
1873
Age 84