JOHN TAPPAN, ESQ. (1781-1871) was born in Northampton, Massachusetts. His father Benjamin was a goldsmith in Northampton. John moved to Boston and worked in mercantile business in 1799. Interestingly, while on a trip to Europe, he was shipwrecked, as a result of the first mate’s intoxication, and he stayed alive by carving an oar into a fork and spearing fish with it. This experience made him devote his life to Christian benevolence and to the temperance movement. In 1825 he retired from business. He was president of the American Tract Society for more than 20 years and also an officer in many other organizations.
Daniel Lewis Tappan, Tappan-Toppan Genealogy: Ancestors and Descendants of Abraham Toppan of Newbury, Massachusetts, 1606-1672 (Massachusetts: D. L. Tappan, 1915)