Dorothy Ripley

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Dorothy Ripley (1767-1832, from the Library of Congress) was an English missionary and writer who spent thirty years in the United States trying to secure better conditions for the slaves. Later in her life she became involved in prison reform.

Ripley was the daughter of a Methodist preacher who had been expelled from his native home and had settled in Whitby, North Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber, England, Kingdom of Great Britain.

Through her father Dorothy acquired a love of religion. In 1797 she had a mystical experience during which she felt that God commanded her to leave her home in England and travel to the United States on a mission to help the African slaves. During the course of this mission, which she made her entire life’s work, she had occasion to meet with Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, preach to congregations in various churches and meetings, and write several books about her own life.

Speech before Congress

According to one Library of Congress source, she was the "first woman to preach before the House (and probably the first woman to speak officially in Congress under any circumstances)." She conducted a church service on January 12, 1806 — among those in attendance were Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

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