Mary Katherine Goddard, Freedom Printer by Anu
Mary Katherine Goddard didn't just print the first copy of the Declaration. She printed with the ink of freedom as we know it.
Mary Katherine Goddard was born to Sarah Updike Goddard with her younger brother, William Goddard, on June 16th, 1738. The siblings were raised in New London, Connecticut. Since both the parents were printers, their children has a longtime interest in the business also. After the
death of Goddard's father, she started to help their mother with business, and not long after, her
brother also started to help. This led to Goddard taking over the business when her mother died.
Her brother was frequently traveling, and could not generally help out.
Unlike her brother, Goddard did not get married and have children. This left her free to take the post
of the person who would do a very important job. It was to print the Declaration of
Independence, including all the signatures. This gave her a significant amount of power, and she
did her task well. She then got the job of being the Baltimore Postmaster as well as her other
printing job. Using the name M.K Goddard on her published works, she was most likely the first
woman to hold a position of power like this in all of the thirteen colonies.
Many historians agree that out of a fit of jealousy and rage, "William most likely forced his sister
to quit - there is record of her filing five lawsuits against him at that time." This caused a huge
political uproar. 200 of the leading businessmen in Baltimore came forward and tried to get her
back, and George Washington was informed of this. But he refused to intervene. Since Goddard
had no choice but to go, she lost one source of income. But then she was also pushed out of the
Baltimore Postmaster job, in favor of a male. Reluctantly, she left and opened her own bookshop.
Goddard ran it until 1809/1810. She died peacefully in 1816, at age 78. She was buried in the
graveyard of St. Paul's Parish.
Mary Catherine Goddard was much respected and beloved by many people. Thomas Jefferson
even admired her for her abilities. She was lost in the sea of history a long time ago, but I hope
by writing this, I can make her resurface, and let her achievement be honored once more.