News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 14, 2012

BRUCE’S HISTORY LESSONS: Mary Goddard: A woman of many firsts

TERRE HAUTE — Mary Katherine Goddard, born this week (June 16) in 1738, in Connecticut (birthplace town not recorded), was a woman of many firsts. After moving to Providence, R.I., in 1762, Mary, her mother and her brother William established a printing business, but when William left to start up another print shop in Philadelphia, Mary decided to start a newspaper. In 1766, with her mother’s help, she began publishing The Providence Gazette, making her America’s first official female newspaper publisher.

Mary ran the Gazette for two years before selling it and joining her brother in Philadelphia, where she helped him publish The Pennsylvania Chronicle until William again moved, to Baltimore, MD. There he set up another print shop and in 1773 established The Maryland Journal, which became a leading voice in the call for America to seek independence from Great Britain.  

And once again Mary followed him, selling the Chronicle in 1774 and moving to Baltimore to help run the Journal. The next year, 1775, Mary was listed as both the editor and publisher on the Journal’s masthead, and in June of that year the Journal scored something of a “scoop” by being the first paper to publish a detailed account of what is now considered the first pitched battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill.

And in 1775, Mary added another “first” to her resume by becoming postmaster of the Baltimore Post Office, the first woman to hold a postmaster position in America.  Mary would distinguish herself in that job for 14 years until U.S. Postmaster Samuel Osgood removed her in order to give the position to a political crony.

In protest, some 250 citizens of Baltimore, including more than 200 of the city’s leading businessmen, drew up a petition demanding that she be reinstated — alas, unsuccessfully.

But it was her final two “firsts” that were the most important. When, in January of 1777, America’s Continental Congress decreed that the Declaration of Independence should be printed and widely circulated, Mary offered to do the printing, despite the fact that the British considered the Declaration a treasonous document, meaning that anyone associated it was a traitor and therefore subject to harsh reprisals. Undaunted, Mary became the second American printer to publish the Declaration, but the first to publish it with the typeset names of all of the document’s signatories.

Those signatories included 56 courageous men, most prominently its author, Thomas Jefferson, as well as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and, in bold script, John Hancock.  

Also included was one courageous woman. As publisher, Mary decided to print her own name at the bottom of the document, making her — in a way — not just the first, but the only woman signatory.

Bruce G. Kauffmann’s email address is

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Raw: Ferry Captain Received Medical Treatment Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Crowds Rally at '420' Celebration in Denver Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Transcript Reveals Confusion in Ferry Evacuation Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions Ocean Drones Making Waves in Research World Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash
NDN Video
Lindsay Lohan's Jaw-Dropping Secret Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition ET Presents The Summer Movie Preview Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Celebs Share Their Easter Fun Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010