Samuel Tappan: Bookish adventurer becomes lifetime advocate for the tribes

Excerpts from my book,Forgotten Heroes and Villains of Sand Creek (June 11, 2010).

Samuel Forster Tappan was an intriguing mixture of adventurer and literary intellectual. Though his formal education was unremarkable, he read voraciously throughout his life. He wrote quotes in his diary from Homer, Shakespeare, Tennyson, de Tocqueville, Thomas Moore, William Blackstone, Macaulay, and Emerich de Vattel. He also abandoned the comforts of home and family in New England, heading west to face a volatile and dangerous frontier in Kansas and Colorado. Amid these rough societies, Tappan repeatedly made decisions that demonstrated a mature and progressive nature that was rare for that time and place.

Tappan was an early target of John Chivington, who considered him a rival and wanted to discredit him. Ironically, Tappan would end up leading the first investigation into the massacre.

Samuel Tappan


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