Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Mary Katherine Goddard
I was looking around on a "notable Colonial American women" site, and found out today is the birthday of Mary Katherine Goddard (June 16, 1738), an important figure of the period who is not much known (I had never heard of her before). She was the first American postmistress, and a publisher who was the first to print the Declaration of Independence with the names if the signatories.
She was born in Connecticut, the daughter of the postmaster of the town of New London, though the family afterward moved to Rhode Island. Her younger brother William was apprenticed in the printing trade, and the family set up a printing press and published Providence's first newspaper, the Providence Gazette. William left soon after to start a paper in Philadelphia and thereafter to Maryland, where he printed the Revolutionary Maryland Journal. Mary took control of the journal in 1774 when her brother traveled to promote the American cause, and she went on with the task throughout the Revolutionary War until 1784 when her brother returned and made her give up the work. In 1775 she also became the Postmistress of the Baltimore post office, ran a book shop, and published a popular almanac. In 1777 she was the first to offer the use of her press to print and distribute the Declaration, despite the danger.
She served as a popular Postmistress for 14 years, until she was removed from the position by the Postmaster General, who declared the job required "more traveling...than a woman could undertake." He then quickly appointed his own political crony to the job, despite the outcry of the citizens of Baltimore, who presented petitions demanding her reinstatement. She then ran a shop selling books, stationery, and dry goods. She died in 1816.
For more information on her fascinating life, you can go here or here....