Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Arthur Tappan

Male 1786 - 1865  (79 years)


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  • Name Arthur Tappan 
    Born 22 May 1786  Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Died 23 Jul 1865  New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Buried Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Siblings 2 siblings 
    Person ID I34856  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others
    Last Modified 9 May 2021 

    Father Benjamin Tappan,   b. 21 Oct 1747, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Jan 1831, Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years) 
    Mother Sarah Holmes,   b. 2 Jan 1748, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Mar 1826, Northampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Married 22 Oct 1770  Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    Family ID F12357  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Frances Antill,   b. 4 May 1785, Montréal, Québec Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Jul 1863, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Married 18 Sep 1810  [1
    Last Modified 9 May 2021 
    Family ID F20491  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • "Arthur Tappan was a New York drygoods merchant, and an abolitionist. He was widely known as a patron of religious and patriotic organizations, endowed Lane Seminary at Cincinnati, a professorship at Auburn Theological Seminary, and built Tappan Hall at Oberlin College, Ohio; he assisted in founding the Journal of Commerce and the Emancipator, and was first president of the Anti-Slavery Society. He aided in sustaining the Liberator, and by paying an enormous fine, freed William Lloyd Garrison from the Baltimore jail. One of the most notable of his benefactions was his paying the tuition of one hundred divinity students for four years at Yale College." [Tappan-Toppan Genealogy, citation details below]

      From Wikipedia (accessed 9 May 2021):

      In 1826, a year after the Erie Canal was completed, Arthur and his brother Lewis moved to New York City, the new national center of business and retail trade, where they established a silk importing business. With Samuel Morse, in 1827 the brothers founded the New York Journal of Commerce.

      Arthur and Lewis Tappan were successful businessmen, but commerce was never their foremost interest. They viewed making money as less important than saving souls. They made the Journal of Commerce a publication free of "immoral advertisements." Arthur Tappan's summer home in New Haven, Connecticut, was destroyed by a mob in 1831 (along with a black hotel and a black home) after his support for a surprisingly unpopular (New Haven Excitement) proposal of a college for African Americans in that city.

      Both men suffered in the anti-abolitionist riots of 1834, in which mobs attacked their property. Arthur Tappan was one of two signatories who issued a disclaimer on behalf of the American Anti-Slavery Society, of which he was president, in the aftermath of the riots, emphasising its dedication to abolishing slavery within the existing laws of the United States.

      "In the great commercial crisis of 1837 he suffered immense losses; and not long after turned his attention to other and more retired occupations, by which he obtained a comfortable subsistence for his family, and the ability still to contribute, though on a greatly diminished scale, throughout his protracted life." [The Life of Arthur Tappan by Lewis Tappan, 1870, page 405.] Their philanthropic efforts crippled and pledges not met, the Tappans were forced to close their silk-importing business, and almost their paper, but the brothers persevered. In the 1840s, they founded another lucrative business enterprise when they opened the first commercial credit-rating service, the Mercantile Agency, a predecessor of Dun and Bradstreet.

      The Tappan brothers made their mark in commerce and in abolitionism. Throughout their careers, the Tappans devoted time and money to philanthropic causes as diverse as temperance, the abolition of slavery, and their support of new colleges in what was then the west of the country: successively, the Oneida Institute, Lane Theological Seminary, the Lane Rebels at Cumminsville, Ohio, and Oberlin Collegiate Institute. Their beliefs about observing Sabbath extended to campaigns against providing stagecoach service and mail deliveries on Sundays.

      In 1833, while a principal owner of the Journal of Commerce, Arthur Tappan allied with William Lloyd Garrison and co-founded the American Anti-Slavery Society. Arthur served as its first president, and there was in 1835 a reward of $20,000 (equivalent to $495,677 in 2019) for his capture and delivery to New Orleans.

      He resigned in 1840 because of his opposition to the society's new support of women's suffrage and feminism. Their early support for Oberlin College, a center of abolitionist activity, included $10,000 to build Tappan Hall. Oberlin's green Tappan Square now occupies the site.

      Continuing their support for abolition, Arthur and his brother founded the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840 and the American Missionary Association in 1846. After the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed, Tappan refused to comply with the new law and donated money to the Underground Railroad. The brothers' positions on the slavery issue were not universally popular. In early July 1834, Lewis Tappan's New York home was sacked by a mob, who threw his furniture into the street and burned it.

      The Tappans and the Journal of Commerce attracted bitter criticism for their campaign to free the Africans who had taken over the slave ship Amistad in 1839. James Gordon Bennett, Sr.'s rival New York Morning Herald denounced "the humbug doctrines of the abolitionists and the miserable fanatics who propagate them," particularly Lewis Tappan and the Journal of Commerce.

      Arthur Tappan died in 1865, Lewis in 1873. Both men lived long enough to see the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment eliminate slavery in the United States, granting freedom to millions of African Americans. Arthur is buried in the Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven.

  • Sources 
    1. [S2662] Tappan-Toppan Genealogy: Ancestors and Descendants of Abraham Toppan of Newbury, Massachusetts, 1606-1672 by Daniel Langdon Tappan. Arlington, Massachusetts, 1915.

    2. [S5653] Find a Grave page for Arthur Tappan.

    3. [S5174] Massachusetts, U.S. Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, on ancestry.com.

    4. [S2651] Memoir of Mrs. Sarah Tappan: Taken in Part from the Home Missionary Magazine, of November, 1828, and Printed for Distribution Among Her Descendants by Sarah Homes Tappan. New York: West & Trow, 1834., year only.

    5. [S2657] Genealogy of the Family of George Marsh, Who Came from England in 1635 and Settled in Hingham, Mass. by E. J. Marsh. Leominster, Massachusetts: F. N. Boutwell, 1887., date only.

    6. [S2662] Tappan-Toppan Genealogy: Ancestors and Descendants of Abraham Toppan of Newbury, Massachusetts, 1606-1672 by Daniel Langdon Tappan. Arlington, Massachusetts, 1915., date only.

    7. [S4303] Lineage of the Bowens of Woodstock, Connecticut by Edward Augustus Bowen. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1897., date only.