Tappan, Lewis

Tappan, Lewis,

1788–1873, American abolitionist, b. Northampton, Mass. He became a partner in his brother Arthur's New York mercantile house in 1828 and in 1841 founded the first agency for rating commercial credit in the United States. Lewis held important offices in several antislavery societies and was a delegate to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1843. He retired from business in 1849 to devote himself exclusively to humanitarian work, mostly for the abolitionist cause. He wrote a biography of his brother (1870).


See study by B. Wyatt-Brown (1968).

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Tappan, Lewis

(1788–1873) merchant, abolitionist; born in Northampton, Mass. (brother of Benjamin and Arthur Tappan). In 1828 he entered into partnership with Arthur as a silk jobber in New York and succeeded him as editor of the New York Journal of Commerce, which he sold in 1831. He 1841 he set up the first commercial credit-rating agency in the U.S.A. With Arthur he helped fund and direct antislavery societies, and he actively sought close links with abolitionists abroad. With his brother he founded the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (1840) and the American Missionary Association (1846). Like his brother he gradually became more radical as an abolitionist, and in 1855 he left the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society to become an officer in the Abolition Society, which called for elimination of slavery in existing slave states.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.