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Collection 174 [March 19, 2001]
Tappan, Lewis; 1788-1873
7 Reels of Microfilm
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
Literary rights in the unpublished writings of Lewis Tappan in these papers are dedicated by the
Library of Congress to the public.
Full name: Lewis Tappan
Birth date:May 23, 1788
Birth place:Northampton, Massachusetts
Father:Benjamin Tappan, Sr.
Brothers:Benjamin, Arthur, Charles, John, and William
|1828 - ca.1837||Partner, with brother Arthur, and credit manager of Arthur Tappan & Co., silk jobbers in New York City|
|1828-1831||Owned and published Journal of Commerce in New York City|
|1833||One of the founders of the New York Anti-Slavery Society and the American Anti-Slavery Society|
|1839-1841||Member of the committee which undertook to secure the freedom of the captives on the slave ship Amistad|
|1840||Founder and first treasurer of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society|
|1841-1849||Established and operated the Mercantile Agency (first commercial credit-rating agency in America) under the firm name of Lewis Tappan & Co.|
|1843||Attended international antislavery convention in London|
|1846||A founder (and later treasurer and president) of the American Missionary Association|
|ca.1850||Participated, after passage of Fugitive Slave Law, in many "underground railroad" activities|
|1855||Joined (and later became an officer in) the American Abolition Society|
|1870||Publication of The Life of Arthur Tappan (Reprinted [New York] Arno  432 p.)|
|1873||Died June 21 in Brooklyn, New York|
[The preceding Biography was taken directly from the guide prepared for this collection by the
Library of Congress.]
Scope and Content
[The following Scope and Content note was taken word-for-word from the guide prepared for this collection by the Library of Congress.]
The papers of Lewis Tappan span the years 1809-1903, and consist of correspondence, letterbooks, journals, notebooks, clippings, photocopies, notes, and miscellaneous other items. The journals and notebooks, which date from 1814-1869, are replete with information concerning Tappan's activities in the antislavery movement and contribute as well to an understanding of his private life, particularly his religious views.
The bulk of the correspondence in the Lewis Tappan papers is made up of copies of his outgoing letters. Contained in eleven volumes (one letter copybook and ten letterpress copybooks), the letters range in date from 1812 to 1870. Legibility of many of these copies is poor, and there are a number of gaps in the chronology. Nine of the volumes include indexes to correspondents. Incoming correspondence, although limited in quantity, covers the period 1809-1871. Subject matter throughout Tappan's correspondence strongly reflects his interest in antislavery activities and his participation in organizations promoting abolition.
Tappan's exposure to Calvinist and Unitarian theology is reflected in his journals by comments on ministers and the themes of their sermons. Also evident in the journals, which contain numerous newspaper clippings, and in his correspondence, is Tappan's involvement in promoting his ideas through Bible, tract, peace, abolition, and missionary societies, and through Sunday schools, free churches, charitable organizations, political parties, and newspapers. Prominent among the organizations represented are the American Anti-Slavery Society, the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, the American Bible Society, the American Colonization Society, the American Missionary Association, the Union Missionary Society, and the Liberty Party. The Journal of Commerce, the National Era, and the American Missionary are among the publications with which Tappan was involved. Slavery, colonization, education of the Negro, and the role of the Christian in the abolition movement dominate the writings dating from 1836. Some of the leading issues discussed are the annexation of Texas and the moves taken for the release from custody of the African captives who had mutinied aboard the Spanish schooner Amistad. Of special interest is Tappan's journal of the international antislavery convention of 1843 in London, England.
A small portion of the collection deals with Tappan's business ventures, particularly his Mercantile Agency (the first commercial credit-rating agency in the United States). Throughout the papers there is documentation of routine family activities of the various members of the Tappan family, as well as of their interaction on matters of mutual concern, particularly where business, religion, and abolition were involved.
Prominent correspondents include John Quincy Adams, James Gillespie Birney, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Seth M. Gates, Samuel Dexter Hastings, William Jay, Joshua Leavitt, Amos Augustus Phelps, and Joseph Sturge. Lewis Tappan's brothers, Benjamin and Arthur, are well represented in the collection as well as other members of the Tappan and Aspinwall families.
In addition to original manuscripts, photocopies of Tappan items in other repositories--notably from papers in the Oberlin College Library--are present in the collection. Most of these copies fall between 1831 and 1841, and consist of letters of Arthur and Lewis Tappan to John J. Shipherd, Charles G. Finney, and Samuel D. Hastings. They deal mainly with the Tappan brothers' involvement in, and financial support of, religious movement in New York City and at Oberlin College.
Miscellaneous items include John Quincy Adams' holograph draft of a legal brief pleading for
release of the Amistad captives, autobiographical notes, genealogical material on the Tappan and
Aspinwall families, and a lecture by Theodore Weld. Writings, notes, and other miscellaneous
items relating to slavery include a list of articles on emancipation by Lewis Tappan, a list of
antislavery hymns, a copy of a deed of manumission, an article by Ansel Bascom, and materials
on the expurgation of references to slavery in published works.
The microfilm in this collection was purchased from the Library of Congress in April 1981.
Type of Material: Microfilm
The following items are located in the CENTER LIBRARY MICROFILM ROOM:
All reels are 35mm, positive copy.
Journals and Notebooks