Mary Katherine Goddard Reveals The Signers Of The Declaration
Mary Katherine Goddard achieved more in her career than most 18th century women could even dream of.
Goddard was a newspaper publisher, postmaster and book store owner.
Her most important contribution to this country was the publication of the 'Goddard Broadsides,' one of the earliest public printings of the Declaration of Independence.
Mary Katherine Goddard
Mary Katherine Goddard was born to a family of liberal minded parents.
Her father was a physician who also served as a postmaster. More importantly, Mary learned about what a woman could achieve from her mother.
When Goddard’s father passed way, her mother, Sarah, took over as postmaster. At just 17 years old, Mary also learned this trade.
Additionally, Mary’s brother started the first newspaper in Providence, Rhode Island. Both her and her mother went to work at the paper and became masters of the printing press.
The Maryland Journal
The two women followed Mary’s brother briefly to Philadelphia before resettling permanently in Baltimore, Maryland.
In Baltimore, Mary continued to assist her brother in the printing business. They published the Maryland Journal as well as pamphlets and an almanac.
Eventually, her brother moved again. This time Goddard remained, taking over the print shop and continuing to publish the Journal.
As the Stamp Act affected printers more than most people in the colonies, the Journal began to promote revolutionary causes.
Due to this, and the training she had received from her parents, Mary Katherine Goddard was appointed to the position of Baltimore Postmaster when the Revolutionary government took over.
When the British Army took over Philadelphia at the end of 1776, the Continental Congress relocated to Baltimore. Whenever they needed something printed, they went to the city’s most popular publisher, Mary Katherine Goddard.
The Declaration of Independence
The following January, the Congress decided to distribute copies of the Declaration of Independences as widely as possible. To this end, they hired the services of Goddard.
This made Mary Katherine the second person ever authorized to print the Declaration. Her now famous ‘Goddard Broadsides’ were special for a few reasons.
First, she included the names of the signers, revealing to the world which Founders had autographed their death warrants in support of their country.
Secondly, the words ‘Printed by MARY KATHERINE GODDARD’ appear on the bottom. This (kind of) makes her the first and only woman to put her name on an original printing of the Declaration of Independence.
Mary would continue printing the Journal through the end of the Revolutionary War, when an argument with her brother ended her association with the organization.
She also stayed on as postmaster for a total of fifteen years. After the US Constitution was ratified, the nation's new Postmaster General removed her from the office, despite a large petition from local Baltimore business owners.
Mary Katherine Goddard would spend the rest of her long life running a book, stationary and dry good shop she had established while running the presses.
While there is no singular biography on Mary Katherine Goddard, she is discussed in the great book 'Founding Mothers' by Cokie Roberts. I highly recommend picking up a copy. Purchases through the links on this page go through Amazon and support the site at no additional cost to you.
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