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Binding the Nation : Starting the System : Mary Katherine Goddard

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816)

'The Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser,' Friday, May 16, 1788

Mary Katherine Goddard worked with her brother, William, in his printing shops in Providence and Philadelphia before the pair moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Left to manage the daily operations of the family's print shop while her brother was away drumming up support for his Constitutional Post, Mary Katherine Goddard published The Maryland Journal, numerous almanacs and broadsides.

Through William's influence, Mary Katherine became Baltimore's postmaster in 1775. She held the post for 14 years. But in 1789, Postmaster General Samuel Osgood removed her from the position stating that it would require "more traveling . . . than a woman could undertake." Osgood appointed his political ally, John White, a man inexperienced in postal operations, to replace her.

Mary Goddard approached her publishing duties with great enthusiasm. Her printing coup was her publication of the Declaration of Independence on January 18, 1777. It was the first copy of the Declaration listing all of the signers to appear in print.

Goddard's customers protested her dismissal. She had, by all accounts, been an accomplished postmaster. On November 12, 1789, over 230 citizens of the city of Baltimore presented Postmaster General Osgood with a petition demanding her reinstatement. In their plea, the petitioners noted that Mary Katherine Goddard gave "universal Satisfaction to the community" and they were "praying in the most earnest manner that she be restored."

The citizens' petition was unsuccessful. Having already lost her printing business to her brother, Mary Katherine Goddard turned to selling books, stationery and dry goods. She died in Baltimore on August 12, 1816, still beloved by the community she served so well.













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