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Arthur Tappan

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Arthur Tappan (May 22, 1786July 23, 1865) was an American abolitionist. Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, he moved to Boston at the age of 15. In 1807 he established a dry goods business in Portland, Maine. Arthur and his brother, Lewis Tappan, established a silk importing business in New York in 1826. After The Panic of 1837, which caused their silk business to go bankrupt, they started what became the first American commercial credit-rating service. In 1827, Arthur and Lewis founded the New York Journal of Commerce.

In 1833, Arthur cofounded the American Anti-Slavery Society with William Lloyd Garrison, and served as its first president until 1840, when he resigned based on his opposition to the society's newfounded support of women's suffrage and feminism. Continuing his support for abolition, Arthur and his brother founded the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840, and the American Missionary Society in 1846. After the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed, he refused comply with the new law, and financially supported the Underground Railroad.


Arthur Tappan should not be confused with Arthur Tappan Pierson, a priest.

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