Lewis Tappan Button



Lewis Tappan


Lewis Tappan, (1788 – 1873) was a philanthropist, merchant, and industrialist who used his wealth to end slavery. The New York Times described Lewis Tappan as “one of the pioneers in the movement for the abolition of slavery in this country” in his obituary notice. Raised in a deeply religious household, Lewis Tappan applied his evangelical beliefs to a host of reform causes. He prospered in the dry goods business, especially in a silk importing firm with his partner and brother Arthur Tappan. He gave liberally to the American Anti-Slavery Society and helped to publish The Emancipator. Lewis Tappan and Arthur Tappan provided the financial backing for the establishment of Oberlin College, Oberlin Ohio, where black and white students were educated together in an abolitionist environment. Lewis Tappan’s name can be linked with efforts to eliminate racial segregation (“the black pew”) in American churches, educational reform, and the Underground Railroad. Tappan took a leadership role in establishing the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. In 1834 a pro-slavery mob set fire to Tappan’s belongings. Tappan took a leading role in defense of the Africans in the Amistad trials of 1841. He helped in the return of the Amistad Mendians to Africa with the intention of fostering the spread of Christianity. Tappan communicated with Gerrit Smith regarding the moral and legal aspects of the Amistad captives.


Lewis Tappan was inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum in Peterboro NY in 2009


2.25” diameter metal shell


Mylar protective cover


Metal pin back


Artwork by Joe Flores



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