Sunday, April 20, 2003

Ohio Moments

Benjamin Tappan founded Ravenna

On April 20, 1857, Benjamin Tappan - the founder of the city of Ravenna and an ardent foe of slavery - died in Steubenville.

Born in Massachusetts, he journeyed to Ohio in 1799 from Connecticut, where he had practiced law. He served as a senator in Ohio's first General Assembly in 1803. Tappan filed the town plot for and named Ravenna, the seat of Portage County, in 1808. He moved to Steubenville to practice law the following year. A major in the War of 1812, he served as aide-de-camp to Gen. Elijah Wadsworth.

After the war, Tappan served as a common pleas court judge and as a U.S. district judge in Ohio. He denounced slavery, advocating its overthrow by violence. While in the U.S. Senate from 1839 to 1845, he helped delay annexation of Texas, a slave state. He also helped organize the Ohio Free Soilers, a political party opposed to slavery.

In 1831, Tappan helped found the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, which merged with the Cincinnati Historical Society.

- Rebecca Goodman

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