Mary Katherine Goddard
Mary Katherine Goddard (June 16, 1738 – August 12, 1816) was an early American publisher and the first American postmistress. She was the first to print the Declaration of Independence with the names of the signatories.
Mary Katherine Goddard was born in Connecticut in 1738. She was the daughter of Dr. Giles Goddard and Sarah Updike Goddard. Her father was the postmaster of New London, which could explain why Mary and her brother had long careers and natural interest in the postal system and the printing business.
Her brother, William Goddard, was a few years younger than his sister and had served an apprenticeship in the printing trade. The Goddards (Mrs. Goddard, William Goddard and Mary Goddard) set up a printing press and published Providence's first newspaper, the Providence Gazette. However, William left Rhode Island to start a newspaper in Philadelphia. William also had been the publisher and printer of a revolutionary journal called The Maryland Journal. Mary Goddard took control of the journal in 1774 while her brother was traveling to promote his Constitutional Post; she continued to publish it throughout the American Revolutionary War until 1784. Her brother forced her to give up the newspaper amid an acrimonious quarrel. In 1775, Mary Goddard became Postmaster of the Baltimore post office. She also ran a book store and published an almanac.
When on January 18, 1777, the Continental Congress moved that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, Goddard was one of the first to offer the use of her press. This was in spite of the risks of being associated with what was considered a treasonable document by the British. Her copy, the Goddard Broadside, was the second printed, and the first to contain the typeset names of the signatories, including John Hancock. During the American Revolution, Goddard opposed the stamp act vehemently, recognizing it would increase the cost of printing.
Goddard was a successful postmaster for 14 years. In 1789, however, she was removed from the position by Postmaster General Samuel Osgood despite general protest from the Baltimore community. Mary Katherine Goddard generally did not take part in public controversies, preferring to maintain editorial objectivity; therefore, few articles contain her personal opinions, and her defense was not mounted publicly. Osgood asserted that the position required "more traveling...than a woman could undertake" and appointed a political ally of his to replace her. On November 12, 1789, over 230 citizens of Baltimore, including more than 200 leading businessmen, presented a petition demanding her reinstatement. It was, however, unsuccessful. Following her dismissal, Goddard sold books, stationery, and dry goods. She died August 12, 1816, still beloved by her community.
- Mary Katherine Goddard Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. Maryland State Archives, 2001. Accessed May 2011.
- Biography of Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) National Women's History Museum
- Mary Katherine Goddard and Freedom of the Press Our Urban Heritage by Christopher T. George
- "Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816)". National Postal Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2011.