Meet the Only Woman Whose Name Appears on the Declaration of Independence

Wikimedia Commons

If the name Mary Katharine Goddard doesn’t exactly ring a bell, you’re not alone. But you should familiarize yourself with her because she played an important role in the foundation of our country.

Goddard was an accomplished woman, especially at a time when females had little power in society. She was one of America’s first female publishers, and she ran her own newspaper out of Baltimore. She was also the first female postmaster in the American colonies, and she operated the Baltimore Post Office.

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She is perhaps best known because, in 1777, Goddard was asked to print copies of the Declaration of Independence and deliver them to the 13 American colonies. At the bottom of each page of the famous historical document was printed “Baltimore, in Maryland: Printed by Mary Katharine Goddard.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Signing the declaration was considered treasonous at the time, so it isn’t entirely clear why Goddard added her name to each page, but some speculate she might have known that the declaration would cement her place in history.

Goddard’s business partner was her brother William, and she took over for him in the mid-1770s, printing a newspaper called The Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser. William returned in 1784, retaking control of the printing business, and Mary Katharine’s name was removed from the newspaper.

Goddard served as Postmaster until 1789 and then ran a bookstore until she died in 1816. Although not a household name, Goddard did indeed stake her claim to a pivotal moment in American history.