Arthur and Lewis Tappan

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Liberty collection point

Arthur and Lewis Tappan

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  • hope
  • justice
  • liberty

Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists

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Changemaker name [38]: Arthur and Lewis Tappan

Dates [15]: N/A

Quote [200]: Never mind the Wright brothers. Ignore the Kennedys. Forget the

Kochs. Arthur and Lewis Tappan had a bigger transformative effect on

America than any other brothers in our history.

Quote credit [50]: Karl Zinsmeister, journalist and author, 2016

Image credit [270]: The New York Public Library Digital Collections, Granger

Subheader [40]: Inspired by Faith

Synopsis copy [220]: Arthur and Lewis Tappan were Bible-reading brothers,

entrepreneurs, and “philanthrocapitalists” who turned abolition into a

national movement and funded other social reform efforts.

Image credit [270]: Boston Public Library via Internet Archive

Subheader [40]: Arthur Tappan (1786–1865)

Synopsis copy [220]: Entering business at age 15, Arthur made, lost, and

remade fortunes, believing that God blessed him so he could improve society.

He gave strategically and generously to charitable reform causes, especially

abolition. [219]

Quote (optional) [184]: So simple in all his tastes and habits, so quiet and

modest, yet so firm, independent, and conscientious, that nothing could

swerve him from the right. [152]

Quote credit (optional) [50]: Theodore Dwight Weld, abolitionist, 1870

Image credit [270]: Granger Historical Picture Archive

Subheader [40]: Arthur Tappan: Faith in Action

Body copy [220]: The Tappans were savvy Wall Street businessmen who

prospered in the silk trade, founded the New York Journal of Commerce, and

started the first credit reporting firm, which later became Dun & Bradstreet.

Image caption [144]: Depiction of the late-19th-century interior of Dun &


Image credit [60]: Early Office Museum Archives

Body copy [220]: Arthur was one of America’s great merchants who helped

build the “Benevolent Empire,” a network of Christian social reform

organizations kindled by the early 19th-century Second Great Awakening.


Image caption [144]: A receipt to S. M. Booth from Arthur Tappan & Co.

Image credit [60]:

American Missionary Association Archives, Amistad Research Center

Body copy [220]: The Tappan brothers funded Oberlin College for its biblically

inspired commitment to abolitionist principles, including racially integrated

education. Oberlin was founded to train teachers and other Christian leaders.


Image caption [144]: Photo of Tappan Hall on the Oberlin College campus

Image credit [60]: Oberlin College Archives

Body copy [220]: In 1833, Arthur cofounded the American Anti-Slavery

Society with William Lloyd Garrison and served as its president. Garrison’s

radicalism led the Tappans to found the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery

Society. [218]

Image caption [144]: Meeting notice for the Dutchess County, NY, chapter of

the American Anti-Slavery Society

Image credit [60]: Lanmas / Alamy Stock Photo

Body copy [220]: Arthur financed the distribution of abolitionist literature,

which inflamed the hatred of pro-slavery advocates. In 1835, a South Carolina

mob burned the pamphlets and hanged the brothers in effigy. [206]

Image caption [144]: Depiction of Southern mob violence and a reward poster

for “Tappan”

Image credit [60]: Fotosearch/Getty Images

Subheader [40]: Lewis Tappan (1788–1873)

Synopsis copy [220]: Lewis Tappan was a charismatic leader, master strategist,

public relations expert, and compelling speaker. It is said that he did the most

to free the slave ship La Amistad’s Mendi Africans. [210]

Quote (optional) [184]: I no forget Mr. Tappan forever and ever; and I no forget

God, because God help Mr. Tappan and Mendi people. … I thank all ‘merica

people for they send Mendi people home. [171]

Quote credit (optional) [50]: Cinque, Mendi captive on La Amistad, 1842

Image credit [270]: Massachusetts Historical Society

Subheader [40]: Lewis Tappan: Faith in Action

Body copy [220]: When Lewis learned of the 53 captured Mendi from the

Spanish slave ship La Amistad, he formed an organization for their legal

defense. At issue was whether they should be set free or returned to slavery.


Image caption [144]: Enslaved Mendi overtake their Spanish slave ship


Image credit [60]: Wikimedia Commons

Body copy [220]: Lewis’s Amistad Committee provided food and clothing,

hired interpreters and tutors, supplied religious materials, and engaged a legal

defense team including the Congressman and former U.S. President John

Quincy Adams. [214]

Image caption [144]: Mural depicting the Mendi of the schooner La Amistad

with Arthur Tappan at the U.S. Supreme Court

Image credit [60]: Granger Historical Picture Archive

Body copy [220]: Lewis organized the Mendi’s return after the Supreme Court

granted their freedom, in 1842. An outcome was the American Missionary

Association, with stations worldwide, including “Mo Tappan” in Mendiland.


Image caption [144]: Founded in 1846, the American Missionary Association

disseminated Christianity and abolitionism abroad.

Image credit [60]: HathiTrust Digital Library

Body copy [220]: Lewis prolifically published literature for people of all ages,

outlining the moral wrongs of slavery, bringing the issue into mainstream

discourse and debate.

Image caption [144]: An anti-slavery publication created by Lewis, written for


Image credit [60]: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New

York Public Library

Body copy [220]: Animosity toward the brothers rose; agitated New Yorkers

targeted their homes and businesses in the Anti-Abolition Riots of July, 1834.

Lewis’s residence was ransacked.

Image caption [144]: Angry anti-abolitionist mobs unleash violence in New

York City.

Image credit [60]: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New

York Public Library


Subheader [40]: Legacy of Liberty

Question/alignment statement [179]: Do you think that wealth is a

responsibility rather than a possession?

Image credit [270]: Philip Scalia / Alamy Stock Photo

Scripture [200]: Everything is a gift from you, and we have only given back

what is yours already.

Scripture credit [50]: Chronicles 29:14b

Image credit [270]: The New York Public Library Digital Collections, Granger

Related changemakers: Beechers, Weld/Grimke, James Cash Penney

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