LOPEZ, AARON (1731–1782), American merchant-shipper. Born in Portugal, Lopez went in 1752 to Newport, Rhode Island, where, renouncing his Marrano past, he remarried his wife Abigail in a Jewish ceremony, underwent circumcision, and in time became a leader of the Yeshuat Israel Congregation. Lopez' ties to the well established gomez and Rivera families and the British America's economic boom during the French and Indian War assured him the credit he needed to expand his business beyond Rhode Island. jacob rodriguez rivera , whose daughter Sarah he married in 1763 after Abigail's death, often acted as his partner. Though a specialist in the whale oil and spermaceti candle industries, Lopez' business included livestock, groceries, lumber, rum, ships, and clothing. He was also among the few American Jews active in the slave trade. The credit he secured during the 1760s and 1770s from his English suppliers enabled Lopez to build an extensive transatlantic mercantile empire. Lopez had trading connections with the Caribbean, Western Europe, and West Africa and on the eve of the American Revolution, was Newport's leading merchant and her largest taxpayer. Lopez supported the rebel cause and withdrew from British-threatened Newport to Leicester in central Massachusetts. This diminished his business and he did not survive to recoup his losses. The Newporters, to whose prosperity he had contributed so signally before the Revolution, mourned him, wrote Stiles, with a "demonstration of universal sorrow." -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bigelow, in: New England Quarterly, 4 (1931), 757–76; Commerce of Rhode Island, 2 vols. (1914–15); M. Gutstein, Aaron Lopez and Judah Touro (1939); J. Marcus, Colonial American Jews, 3 vols. (1970); S.F. Chyet, Lopez of Newport (1970). (Stanley F. Chyet)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Lopez, Aaron — (1731–82)    Rhode Island merchant. Lopez came from a Marrano family in Portugal and settled in Newport, Rhode Island, at the age of twenty one. He openly embraced Judaism, had himself circumcised, and remarried his wife by Jewish law. By the… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Lopez, Aaron — (1731 82)    American merchant shipper. He was born in Portugal, and settled in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1752. There he became a leader of the Yeshuat Israel Congregation. He built up an extensive transatlantic mercantile empire and became… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

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