Benjamin Tappan

Benjamin Tappan (May 25, 1773 – April 20, 1857) was a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio and a United States senator from Ohio.

Benjamin Tappan
Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin Tappan, 1814, NGA 52387.jpg
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1845
Preceded byThomas Morris
Succeeded byThomas Corwin
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio
In office
October 12, 1833 – June 30, 1834
Appointed byAndrew Jackson
Preceded byJohn Wilson Campbell
Succeeded byHumphrey H. Leavitt
Personal details
Born(1773-05-25)May 25, 1773
Northampton, Massachusetts Bay, British America
DiedApril 20, 1857(1857-04-20) (aged 83)
Steubenville, Ohio, U.S.
Resting placeUnion Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
RelativesBenjamin Franklin (cousin)
Arthur Tappan (brother)
Lewis Tappan (brother)
John Wright (brother-in-law)

Education and careerEdit

Born on May 25, 1773, in Northampton, Province of Massachusetts Bay, British America,[1] Tappan attended the public schools and was apprenticed as a printer and engraver.[2] He traveled to the West Indies and studied painting with Gilbert Stuart.[2] He read law in 1799.[1] He was admitted to the bar in Hartford, Connecticut and entered private practice in Ravenna, Northwest Territory (State of Ohio from March 1, 1803) from 1799 to 1803, located in what was the Connecticut Western Reserve until 1800.[1] He was a member of the Ohio Senate from 1803 to 1804.[1] He resumed private practice in Ravenna from 1804 to 1809.[1] He continued private practice in Steubenville, Ohio from 1809 to 1812, and from 1814 to 1816.[1] He was a United States Army major from 1812 to 1814, during the War of 1812.[1] He was a Judge of the Ohio Court of Common Pleas for the Fifth Judicial District from 1816 to 1823.[1] He resumed private practice in Steubenville from 1823 to 1838.[1] He was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1832.[2] In October 1838, he formed a law partnership with Edwin Stanton.[3]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Tappan received a recess appointment from President Andrew Jackson on October 12, 1833, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Ohio vacated by Judge John Wilson Campbell.[1] He was nominated to the same position by President Jackson on January 20, 1834.[1] His service terminated with the sine die adjournment of the first session of the 23rd United States Congress on June 30, 1834, after his nomination was rejected by the United States Senate on May 29, 1834.[1]

Congressional serviceEdit

Tappan was elected as a Democrat from Ohio to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1839, to March 3, 1845.[2] He was Chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses for the 27th and 28th United States Congresses and Chairman of the Committee on the Library for the 27th United States Congress.[4][2] He was censured by the Senate in 1844 for breach of confidence for passing copies of a proposed treaty with Texas to the press.[2]

Later career and deathEdit

Following his departure from Congress, Tappan resumed private practice in Steubenville from 1845 to 1857.[1] He died on April 12, 1857, in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio.[1] He was interred in Union Cemetery in Steubenville.[2]

Settler and city founderEdit

Tappan 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.[5]


Tappan was the second child and oldest son of Benjamin Tappan and Sarah (Homes) Tappan, who was a grandniece of Benjamin Franklin.[5] Two of his younger brothers were abolitionists Arthur Tappan and Lewis Tappan.[5] He married, March 20, 1801, Nancy Wright, sister of John C. Wright, afterwards a United States representative from Ohio.[citation needed] They had one son, Benjamin, born in 1812.[citation needed] His first wife having died, Benjamin was married a second time, in 1823, to Betsy (Lord) Frazer, the widow of Eliphalet Frazer.[citation needed] They had one son, Eli Todd Tappan, later president of Kenyon College.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Benjamin Tappan at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g United States Congress. "Benjamin Tappan (id: T000039)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ Flower, Frank Abial (1905). Edwin McMasters Stanton: the autocrat of rebellion, emancipation, and reconstruction. New York: Western W. Wilson. p. 36.
  4. ^ "TAPPAN, Benjamin - Biographical Information". Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, R.C; Norris, J.E. (1972) [1885]. History of Portage County Ohio (revised ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Warner, Beers, and Company. pp. 521–522.


External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Ohio
Served alongside: William Allen
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Audit Committee
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Oldest Living United States Senator
Succeeded by