Monday 16 June 2014

Mary Katherine Goddard and the Goddard Broadside

Mary Katherine Goddard (Connecticut, America, 16th June 1738 – Baltimore, Maryland, America, 12th August 1816)

Mary Katherine Goddard
Mary Katherine Goddard

A few months ago I introduced a lady who made waves in the English printing and publishing industry and today it is my pleasure to welcome another, America's Mary Katherine Goddard. Her place in history is assured not only as a woman who strove to succeed in a challenging world but also because she played a very important role in one of America's most significant moments.

Goddard came from a family steeped in print and post, the daughter of a postmaster and, with her brother, William, the owner and operator of the Providence Gazette. She would later become a postmaster herself, though she lost her role on the Gazette after a somewhat vitriolic falling out with William.

Goddard Broadside, 1776
Goddard Broadside, 1776

On 18th January 1777, the Continental Congress proposed that the Declaration of Independence should be more widely distributed. Hearing this, Goddard immediately offered up the use of her printing press, not caring a jot for invoking the ire of the British. She printed the Goddard Broadside, the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence that contained the names of all signatories. This was a hugely significant act as it was the first time all signers of this at the time treasonous document were identified; it was a huge scoop for Goddard and a politically momentous moment.

Eventually Goddard's career began to decline and though she was a postmaster of repute and respect in Baltimore, she was ousted from the role in favour of a man. Despite her efforts to retain her position it was not to be and she began a new career as a bookseller, living on to a ripe old age.


Barbara Passaris said...

She was a remarkable woman, of her time and ahead of it as well.

Catherine Curzon said...

And not nearly well known enough!

Annette said...

MDE G. Women has tried so often for a position that they are more then prepared for by their education and preparation for a position. Yet, the individual faces surmountable (sometimes in past and modern periods) options, that is if one sees this, other opportunities -being a wife, mother, and tender of young folk as a teacher... But the positions that men have held-often do not open for women. Yet, I do know that a political change in the American small town can bring the same ousting that the woman you mentions-Goddard-happened in 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party swept the Elections from the National to small Town centers. The small Town Post Office Master's role changed forcing a man out of the position who was a Republican. The man lost his very means of support for two young children and his wife. He later fell ill to cancer which had spread slowly over the years but at that time there was little to combat cancer of the lungs. He retired early, the group at the post office gave him his old desk. The Desk was a reminder to me of how frail a life is and a position one holds lost. Sad to read of such treatment of MS GODDARD. ATK

Catherine Curzon said...

And so much history can be bound up in something so simple as a desk; sometimes we miss the small things.