The first American postmistress (female postmaster) and the first to print the Declaration of Independence with the names of the signatories was born today in 1738. Now WE know em


Mary Katherine Goddard was born June 16, 1738 in Connecticut.

Her father was the postmaster of New London, Connecticut which could explain why Mary and her younger brother William grew up to have a natural interest in the postal system and the printing business.

The family eventually moved to Providence, Rhode Island and set up its own printing press.

Soon, Mary and her brother published Providence’s first newspaper, the Providence Gazette.

However, brother William then left Rhode Island to publish a revolutionary journal called The Maryland Journal.

Mary Goddard moved to Maryland to take over the journal in 1774 while her brother began traveling to promote his new Constitutional Post.

Then her brother William forced her to give up the newspaper amid an acrimonious sibling quarrel.

So in 1775, Mary Goddard became Postmaster of the Baltimore post office.

Thus Mary became the first American woman to hold the office of Postmaster and was referred to as a Postmistress.

Then on January 18, 1777, the Continental Congress moved that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed.

Mary 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.

The Goddard broadside

The Goddard broadside

During the American Revolution, Mary Goddard opposed the stamp act vehemently, recognizing it would increase the cost of printing.

Mary Goddard went on to be 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, Mary Goddard sold books, stationery, and dry goods out of a store she opened. Mary Katherine Goddard died August 12, 1816, still beloved by her community.

Now WE know em




One response to “The first American postmistress (female postmaster) and the first to print the Declaration of Independence with the names of the signatories was born today in 1738. Now WE know em

  1. Pingback: Mary Katherine Goddard 6.16.13 Thought of the Day | ritaLOVEStoWRITE·

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