- Sheila L. Skemp
Lopez, Aaron (1731–28 May 1782), merchant, was born Duarte Lopez in Lisbon, Portugal, the son of Diego Lopez (mother’s name unknown). Nothing is known of his childhood or education. He abandoned his Christian name Duarte, his parents, and his native land of Portugal when he left Lisbon in 1752 with his wife, Anna, setting sail for the British colony of Rhode Island. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Moses (born José), who had fled religious persecution in the 1730s, going first to New York, and then by 1749 to the seaport town of Newport, Rhode Island, a city known for its religious tolerance. By the time Aaron (as he now called himself) arrived in America, Moses had already established himself as a merchant in the thriving commercial entrepôt. When Aaron Lopez arrived in Newport, he was welcomed by the small Jewish community there, gained easy access to credit, and quickly began to develop a business that would make him Newport’s “merchant prince” by 1770....