About Frances Harriet McDougall (Whipple)
Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall (1805–1878) was an abolitionist, poet, novelist, editor, botanist, spiritualist medium, and advocate of women's, voters', and workers' rights. In contrast to many other 19th-century women writers, throughout most of her adult life she earned her living as an author; at the same time she often donated her writing for causes she believed in, such as the abolition of slavery. She stands out in History of Rhode Island.
She was born as Frances Harriet Whipple on a farm in Smithfield, Rhode Island. She descended from two of the state's oldest, most distinguished families, but after her father's serious financial reversal she had to earn her own living at a very early age. She gained local recognition for her poetry and in 1838 anonymously penned a best-seller: The Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge, one of the few published narratives of a free black woman. The profits of this book helped Eldridge retrieve property that had been taken from her unjustly.
In 1842, during the conflict of Rhode Island's Dorr Rebellion, Frances Whipple supported Dorr's efforts to achieve reform of the state's voting laws. After this uprising was harshly suppressed, she fled to Connecticut where she lived "in exile" with her new husband, an artist named Charles Green. Their unhappy marriage ended in 1847 when Frances divorced Charles on grounds of non-support and desertion. She then moved to the area of New York City where she taught botany and wrote for spiritualist publications. In 1861 she moved to San Francisco. There she lectured and wrote against slavery, worked for women's rights and served on the board of the first local women's typographical union. She also continued her spiritualist writing. At the age of 57 she married William McDougall, a miner who had been a California assemblyman and was the brother of the state's second governor, John McDougall. She died in 1878 in Oakland, California, where she was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.