Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall

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Frances Harriet McDougall (Whipple)

Birthdate: (73)
Death: 1878 (73)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of George Washington Whipple and Nancy Ann Scott
Wife of William Creighton McDougall
Ex-wife of Charles Green

Managed by: Private User
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About Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall

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.


Frances Whipple Green McDougall (1805-1878)was one of Rhode Island's most significant mid-nineteenth century writers and reformers. She was born in Smithfield where she spent her childhood in modest circumstances despite her membership in two of Rhode Island's pioneering families.

Frances began her writing career by publishing her poems in local newspapers and by editing, in 1829, two issues of a local interest periodical which she entitled The Original. By the late 1830s, the reformist spirit of America's “Age of Equalitarianism” turned her interest increasingly towards some of the causes of that period, especially temperance, abolition, and workers' rights. She published The Memoirs of Elleanor Edridge, a narrative of a free black woman; edited the Wampanoag, and Operatives' Journal, a magazine designed to improve the condition of female factory workers in Fall River (which then was partly in Rhode Island), and she was the most prolific antislavery writer in Providence, contributing to William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator and other periodicals.

From a Rhode Island perspective, Whipple's book Might and Right is her most important treatise. In this work she persuasively defended the Dorr Rebellion with logic and fervor. Her support of Dorr's efforts contrasted markedly with the position of her first cousin John Whipple, the attorney who teamed with Daniel Webster before the U. S. Supreme Court to repudiate Dorr's movement for constitutional change.

Whipple left Providence for the New York City area and turned her attention to the writing of works on spiritualism and a textbook on botany. Then this talented but restless woman moved to California in 1861. There she met and married her second husband William C. McDougall, a former California assemblyman. In her new setting she lent her pen to the cause of women's rights and assumed the role of a medium, speaking and writing messages dictated to her from the spirit world. She died in Oakland, California in 1878.

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Frances Harriet Whipple Green McDougall's Timeline

Age 73