Archive for the ‘Benjamin Tappan’ Tag

Feast of Elijah P. Lovejoy, Owen Lovejoy, and William Wells Brown (November 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Am I Not a Man and a Brother?

Image in the Public Domain



U.S. Journalist, Abolitionist, Presbyterian Minister, and Martyr, 1837

brother of


U.S. Abolitionist, Lawmaker, and Congregationalist Minister



African-American Abolitionist, Novelist, Historian, and Physician


If the evil authorities refuse to protect me, I will look to God; and if I die, I have determined to make my grave in Alton.

–Elijah P. Lovejoy, November 3, 1837; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 718


Shout it from the rooftops!

–Congressman Owen Lovejoy, 1859, in response to the allegation of being a “Negro stealer”



Thirteen years ago, I came to your door, a weary fugitive from chain and tripes.  I was hungry, and you fed me.  Naked was I, and you clothed me.  Even a name by which to be known among men, slavery had denied me.  You bestowed upon me your own.  Base indeed, should I be, if I ever forget what I owe to you, or do anything to disgrace that honored name!

As a slight testimony of my gratitude  to my earliest benefactor, I take the liberty to inscribe to you this little narrative of the sufferings from which I was fleeing when you had compassion upon me.  In the multitude that you have succored, it is very possible that you may not remember me; but until I forget God and myself, I can never forget you.

Your faithful friend,

William Wells Brown

Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave (1848), Second Edition


Elijah P. Lovejoy comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  Owen Lovejoy and William Wells Brown come to my Ecumenical Calendar via personal connections to Elijah P. Lovejoy.

Elijah and Owen Lovejoy were sons of farmers Daniel Lovejoy (also a Congregationalist minister) and Elizabeth Pattee (Lovejoy), of Albion, Maine.

Elijah, born on November 9, 1802, received his name in honor of Elijah Parish (November 7, 1762-October 15, 1825), a Congregationalist minister, an abolitionist, an active member of the Federalist Party, and a friend of Daniel Lovejoy.  Elijah graduated from Waterville College, Waterville, Maine, with honors, in 1826.  He, as a student, had received financial support from Benjamin Tappan (Jr.) and taught in the college’s preparatory school.

Owen, born on January 6, 1811, left the farm at the age of 18 years and matriculated at Bowdoin College.  He studied yet never practiced law.  Owen, a member of the Class of 1832, became a Congregationalist minister instead.

Elijah decided to serve God in the West–Illinois, to be precise–yet needed money first.  He attempted to find work in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving along to New York, New York.  There, in 1827, he sold subscriptions to the Saturday Evening Gazette door-to-door for a few weeks.  During this time of struggles our saint wrote to Jeremiah Chaplin, the President of Waterville, College.  Chaplin sent enough money for Elijah to go westward.

Elijah lived and worked in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1827 to 1836.  At first he taught in schools and submitted poems to newspapers.  Then our saint became a parter in the St. Louis Times, which favored the National Republican Party, a predecessor of the Whig Party.  Elijah, as a journalist, met community leaders active in the American Colonization Society.  Our saint, after a period of spiritual struggle, converted to Presbyterianism in 1832.  He, as a partner in the St. Louis Times, hired a slave, later known as William Wells Brown.

William, born a slave near Lexington, Kentucky, circa 1814, was a mulatto.  His master and father was George W. Higgins.  Our saint’s mother was Elizabeth, a slave.  Higgins sold Elizabeth and William several time.  William grew up mostly in St. Louis, where he worked primarily on river boats.  He and his mother escaped to Illinois in 1833, but slave hunter captured them.  Our saint escaped successfully to Ohio the following year, though.  In Ohio a Quaker named Wells Brown provided clothing, food, and money, and helped William move along.

Also in 1834, the renamed William Wells Brown married Elizabeth Schooner.  The couple had two daughters who lived to adulthood–Clarissa and Josephine.  The latter (1839-1874) wrote her father’s biography in 1856.  The couple separated in 1847, and Elizabeth died in 1851.

William lived in Buffalo, New York, from 1836 to 1845.  There he worked on a steamboat on Lake Eve and helped many slaves escape to Canada.  He also became active in the abolitionist and temperance movements in Buffalo.

Elijah, who studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, starting in 1832, became an ordained minister the following year.  In 1833 he published the first issue of the St. Louis Observer, a Presbyterian newspaper.  He wrote critically of slavery, tobacco, liquor, and Roman Catholicism.  Our saint favored gradual emancipation.  He also refused demands backed up by threats of mob violence–to cease writing about slavery.

In 1836 Francis McIntosh, a free African American taken into police custody unjustly, attacked the officers, wounding one and killing the other.  He subsequently died at the hands of a lynch mob.  A local judge blamed only Elijah, whom he accused of stirring up discontent.  Our saint knew he had to leave St. Louis.  Before he departed, however, a mob destroyed his printing press while authorities watched.  Elijah, his wife Celia Ann French (married in 1835), and family left for Alton, Illinois.

The Alton Observer debuted in 1836.  Elijah continued to write against slavery, despite threats of mob violence and the lack of police protection.  In late October 1837 he presided over the congress of the Illinois Anti-Slavery Society at his congregation, Upper Alton Presbyterian Church.

Elijah became a martyr on November 7, 1837.  He and some supporters defended themselves against a mob that broke into the warehouse where he had hidden his new printing press.  Our saint died, and the mob threw the printing press into the Mississippi River.  His wife and two children had to go on without him.  There was no funeral, and an unmarked grave held his corpse, despite national attention.  Also, no court convicted anyone for the murder.  John Brown, however, dedicated his life to the destruction of slavery shortly thereafter.

Owen, who witnessed his brother’s murder, took up the mantle.  He and brother Joseph wrote Memoir of Elijah P. Lovejoy (1838).  Owen, pastor of the Congregational Church, Princeton, Illinois (1838-1856), founded congregations in conjunction with the American Missionary Association and became a conductor of the Underground Railroad.  He, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, served in the Illinois State Legislature (1855-1857) then the U.S. House of Representatives (1857-1864).

Owen died in Brooklyn, New York, on March 25, 1864.

William Wells Brown continued to work against slavery.  He, Clarissa, and Josephine lived in England from 1849 to 1854.  He traveled, lecturing on behalf of the abolitionist cause.  In 1854, the Richardsons, who had purchased the freedom of Frederick Douglass, did the same for Brown.  Our saint and his daughter moved to Boston, Massachusetts, that year.  While in England, he had written and published Clotel; or, the President’s Daughter (1853), a novel based on the lives of slave children of Thomas JeffersonClotel was the first novel by an African American.

Brown, back in the United States, persisted in his abolitionist activism.  He, a renowned orator and the first published African-American playwright (for The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom, 1858), sided with William Lloyd Garrison in the dispute that divided the U.S. abolitionist movement.  Brown, like Garrison, included women in the definition of people who deserved legal equality.  Our saint became more radical after 1854; he advocated for emigration to Haiti, laid aside his opposition to violence, and helped to recruit African-American soldiers for the U.S. Army during the Civil War.

Brown, who married Anna Elizabeth Gray in 1860, added more items to his list of accomplishments.  He became a historian, writing the following volumes:

  1. The Black Man:  His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863);
  2. The Negro in the American Rebellion (1867), perhaps the first work about African American during the U.S. War for Independence; and
  3. The Rising Son; or, the Antecedents and Advancements of the Colored Race (1873).

Furthermore, Brown became a doctor.

Brown died in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on November 6, 1884.

Elijah P. Lovejoy, Owen Lovejoy, and William Wells Brown loved God, followed Christ, and left their country and world better than they found them.








O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom

the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60


Feast of Arthur Tappan, Lewis Tappan, Samuel Eli Cornish, and Theodore S. Wright (November 6)   6 comments

Above:  Emancipation, 1865

Image in the Public Domain


ARTHUR TAPPAN (MAY 22, 1786-JULY 23, 1865)

U.S. Congregationalist Businessman and Abolitionist

brother of

LEWIS TAPPAN (1788-1873)

U.S. Congregationalist Businessman and Abolitionist



African-American Presbyterian Minister, Abolitionist, and Journalist



African-American Presbyterian Minister and Abolitionist


One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That is a goal I can accomplish in more than one way.  I can, for example, write posts that link into each other.  Sometimes doing so is the option that provides the most clarity in the presentation of material.  I can also write about more than one person in one post.  This post uses both methods.

The Tappan brothers–Arthur and Lewis–were a remarkable team from a remarkable family.  They were sons of Benjamin Tappan (Sr.) and Sarah Homes, and brothers of Benjamin Tappan (Jr.) (1773-1857), a United States Senator from Ohio (1839-1845).  David Tappan (1752-1803), theologian and Hollis Chair at Harvard Divinity School, was an uncle.  Arthur (born in Northampton, Massachusetts, on May 22, 1786) and Lewis (born in Northampton in 1788) worked in the family business (a dry goods store) before blazing their own paths, mostly together.  The family was Congregationalist.  Lewis, as a young man, converted to Unitarianism, but Arthur persuaded him to return to Trinitarian faith in 1827.

Arthur and Lewis were longtime business partners.  In 1826, in New York City, they opened a silk importing business that became a victim of the Panic of 1837.  In 1827 the brothers founded The Journal of Commerce with Samuel Morse (1791-1872), the inventor of the Morse Code.  The Journal of Commerce functioned as a platform for frequently controversial social advocacy, such as appeals on behalf of the Amistad slaves in 1839-1841.  After the demise of the silk importing firm, the Tappan brothers opened the Mercantile Agency, the first commercial credit rating service, in 1840.

The Tappan brothers understood that the true value of money was what one did with it.  They used money to work for social reform and to sponsor African-American divinity students, for example.  In 1833 the brothers helped to found the American Anti-Slavery Society with William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Weld, et al.  Lewis had formerly favored emancipating the slaves then shipping all of them to overseas colonies, but had decided that the colonization movement was deficient.  Also in 1833, Arthur and Lewis helped to found Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, a school open to students regardless of race and gender.  In some ways the Tappan brothers were radical, according to the standards of their time; they favored racial mixing as a solution to racism.

Although the Tappan brothers were somewhat progressive, according to the standards of their time, regarding gender roles, they were conservative, according to the standards of their time, on the issue of women in leadership roles.  Arthur, President of the American Anti-Slavery Society from 1833 to 1840, left that organization in part over the insistence of William Lloyd Garrison, who linked the rights of African Americans to the rights of women, that women fill leadership roles.  The schism of 1840 resulted from a set of issues, including gender roles.  Other issues were institutional hostility to religion, as well as the desire of many abolitionists to focus narrowly on the abolition of slavery.  The Tappan brothers were two of the founders of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840.

Samuel Eli Cornish and Theodore Sedgwick Wright also helped to found the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833 and the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society seven years later.

Cornish was a minister and a journalist.  He, born free in Sussex County, Delaware, in 1795, studied at the Free African School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His mentor was John Gloucester (1776-1822), the first African-American Presbyterian minister and the pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.  Cornish, licensed to preach in 1819, assisted Gloucester and worked as a missionary to slaves on the Eastern Shore of Maryland before he moved to New York City in 1821.  There he organized the New Demeter Presbyterian Church (later the First Colored Presbyterian Church), the first African-American Presbyterian congregation in the city and the second in the nation-state.  Cornish, ordained in 1822, led that congregation until 1828.  In 1827 he founded Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American newspaper.  Our saint used his editorial office to advocate for the abolition of slavery, as well as for the improvement of living conditions and educational opportunities for African Americans.  Cornish, editor in 1827 and 1829-1830, changed the name of the newspaper to Rights of All in 1829.  The publication ceased to exist in 1830.  Our saint returned to journalist in 1837, when he founded and began to edit Colored American (extant until 1839), which Arthur Tappan subsidized.

Theodore Sedgwick Wright was a colleague of Cornish.  Wright, born free in New Jersey circa 1797, attended the African Free School in New York City.  He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary (Class of 1829); Arthur Tappan was one of his sponsors.  With Arthur Tappan’s help, Wright became the first African-American man to graduate from a theological seminary in the United States.  Wright followed in Cornish’s footsteps as the pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church, New York City, from 1833 to 1847.  Wright also worked as a conductor of the Underground Railroad, of which Cornish was a pioneer.  Both ministers were members of the New York Committee on Vigilance, associated with the Underground Railroad.  Wright, who also worked with James Pennington (1897-1870), an African-American Congregationalist then Presbyterian minister, and an abolitionist, once opposed the use of violence as an antislavery tactic.  In 1843, however, Wright called for slave insurrection.  The slaves were never going to gain by freedom by asking for it politely, after all.

Wright, who married Adeine Turpin in 1837, died in 1847.  He was about 50 years old.

Cornish married Jane Livingston in 1824.  The couple had three children.  Jane (the wife) died in 1844.  Two daughters died at the age of 22 years–Sarah in 1846 and Jane in 1855.  Perhaps William, the son, survived his father.

Cornish remained active until the end of his life.  He, a missionary in New York City, Philadelphia, and Newark, helped Lewis Tappan et al found the American Missionary Society in 1846.  Cornish also founded Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, New York City, that year.  Our saint, an opponent of both the colonization movement and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, moved to Brooklyn in 1855.  There he died, aged about 63 years, on November 6, 1858.

The Tappan brothers lived long enough to see the end of race-based slavery in the United States.  Arthur, aged 79 years, died on July 23, 1865.  Lewis, aged about 85 years, died in 1873.

Had the derogatory and socially and politically regressive term “Social Justice Warrior” existed during the lifetimes of these saints, many would have accused Arthur Tappan, Lewis Tappan, Samuel Eli Cornish, and Theodore Sedgwick Wright of being Social Justice Warriors.  Certainly many would have accused William Lloyd Garrison and members of the Weld-Grimké family of being Social Justice Warriors.  These saints were actually moral giants who got more right than they got wrong, and who left the United States and the world better than they found both.





Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants

Arthur Tappan,

Lewis Tappan,

Samuel Eli Cornish, and

Theodore Sedgwick Wright,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60