Lewis Tappan (1788–1873) was a New York abolitionist who worked to achieve the freedom of the illegally enslaved Africans of the Amistad. Contacted by Connecticut abolitionists soon after the Amistad arrived in port, Tappan focused extensively on the captive Africans. He ensured the acquisition of high-quality lawyers for the captives, which led to their being set free after the case went to the United States Supreme Court. With his brother Arthur, Tappan not only gained legal help and acquittal for the Africans, but also managed to increase public support and fundraising. Finally, he organized the return trip home to Africa for surviving members of the group.
In addition, Tappan was among the founders of the American Missionary Association in 1846, which began more than 100 anti-slavery Congregational churches throughout the Midwest, and after the American Civil War, founded numerous schools and colleges to aid in the education of freedmen.
Lewis Tappan was the brother of Senator Benjamin Tappan and abolitionist Arthur Tappan. His middle-class parents were strict Congregationalists. Once Lewis was old enough to work, he helped his father in a dry goods store. On his sixteenth birthday, he ventured into other areas of commerce, and ultimately started The Mercantile Agency in 1841 in New York City. The Mercantile Agency was the precursor to Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) and modern credit-reporting services. (D&B is a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-listed company still in existence today.)..
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