Benjamin Tappan

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Benjamin Tappan
File:Benjamin Tappan photo.png
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio
In office
October 12, 1833 – May 29, 1834
Appointed by Andrew Jackson
Preceded by John Wilson Campbell
Succeeded by Humphrey H. Leavitt
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 4, 1845
Preceded by Thomas Morris
Succeeded by Thomas Corwin
Member of the Ohio Senate
In office
Personal details
Born (1773-05-25)May 25, 1773
Northampton, Massachusetts
Died April 20, 1857(1857-04-20) (aged 83)
Steubenville, Ohio
Resting place Union Cemetery
Political party Democratic

Benjamin Tappan (May 25, 1773 – April 20, 1857) was an Ohio judge and Democratic politician who served in the Ohio State Senate and the United States Senate. He was an early settler of the Connecticut Western Reserve in northeastern Ohio and was one of the first settlers in Portage County and the founder of the city of Ravenna, Ohio.[1]

Early life, education, and career

Tappan was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the second child and oldest son of Benjamin Tappan and Sarah (Homes) Tappan, who was a grandniece of Benjamin Franklin. Two of his younger brothers were abolitionists Arthur and Lewis Tappan. He attended the public schools in Northampton and traveled to the West Indies in his youth. He apprenticed as a printer and engraver, also studying painting with Gilbert Stuart. He read law to be admitted to the bar in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1799. Later that year, he moved to the Connecticut Western Reserve and founded what is now Ravenna, Ohio, laying out the original village in 1808.[1]

He married, March 20, 1801, Nancy Wright, sister of John C. Wright, afterwards a Congressman from Ohio. They had one son, Benjamin, born in 1812.

Political, military, and judicial activities

Elected to the second Ohio State Senate, Tappan served from 1803 to 1804. He moved to Steubenville, Jefferson County, in 1809 where he continued his law practice.

After serving in the United States Army during the War of 1812, achieving the rank of Major, Tappan held a number of local offices. He served as county judge, judge of the fifth Ohio Circuit Court of Common Pleas from 1816 to 1823. His first wife having died, Benjamin was married a second time, in 1823, to Betsy (Lord) Frazer, the widow of Eliphalet Frazer. They had one son, Eli Todd Tappan, later president of Kenyon College.

Tappan was a Presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1832. On October 12, 1833, Tappan received a recess appointment from newly re-elected President Andrew Jackson to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Ohio vacated by John Wilson Campbell. Formally nominated on January 20, 1834, Tappan's service was terminated on May 29, 1834, after his nomination was not confirmed by the Senate. In October 1838, he formed a law partnership with Edwin Stanton.[2]

United States Senate service

In 1838 he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, in which he served from 1839 to 1845. As senator he served on the Committee on the Library and was chairmain of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses. Tappan was censured on May 10, 1844 for disclosing the terms of a secret message from President John Tyler detailing the possible terms of the annexation of Texas to the New York Evening Post.

Tappan died April 20, 1857 in Steubenville, and was interred in Union Cemetery.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brown, R.C; Norris, J.E. (1972) [1885]. History of Portage County Ohio (revised ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Warner, Beers, and Company. pp. 521–522.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Flower, Frank Abial (1905). Edwin McMasters Stanton: the autocrat of rebellion, emancipation, and reconstruction. New York: Western W. Wilson. p. 36.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Benjamin Tappan". Find A Grave. Retrieved 23 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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