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The Religious Affiliation of Merchant, Abolitionist
Lewis Tappan


From: Catherine M. Barsotti and Robert K. Johnston, Finding God in the Movies: 33 Films of Reel Faith, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan (2004), pages 57-58:
If you want to read more about this event [the events portrayed in the movie Amistad (1997)], there are several nonfictional and fictional accounts of the Amistad Africans. In addition, the United Church of Christ reprinted a small book titled Amistad: The Slave Uprising Aboard the Spanish Schooner, by Helen Kromer. As was noted above, some of the history was not captured in the film nor even portrayed correctly. Quakers opposed slavery early. Presbyterian Elijah Parish Lovejoy was martyred as an abolitionist. However, it was the Congregationalists who provided the strongest and most widespread support for the aboltionist movement and who were involved in the Amistad trials.

Today's Congregationalists--the United Church of Christ (UCC)--were pleased with the event being brought to people's attention, but they were dismayed with some of the distortions. In particular, the portrayal of Lewis Tappan as thinking the Africans would be better as martyrs for the cause is vehemently refuted by the UCC. In addition, the story of social justice did not end with the trials. The return passage for the freed Africans was paid for by funds raised by the churches and the Amistad Committee, not by the federal government. Even after the Civil War, this committee became part of the American Missionary Association, which helped to found schools and colleges for freed slaves.

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Webpage created 4 September 2005. Last modified 4 September 2005.
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