Volume 4 Issue 2 Fall-Winter 2017-18
By Madison Monroe, Editor
The press has been on the cutting edge of our democracy since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Most Americans know that had the revolution gone the other way, everyone that signed that document would have been convicted of treason against England and killed.
The first printed copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed among the colonies without any signatures except John Hancock and a witness. The first copy commissioned by Congress that included all of the original signers names had one name extra. At the bottom of the printed version, the printer bravely aligned with the revolutionaries by adding: Baltimore, in Maryland: Printed by Mary Katharine Goddard.
That’s right – a woman.
One of America’s first newswoman got into the business when her brother walked away from it. She published under her initials, M.K. Goddard. Writing stories about the revolutionary battles and impassioned editorials, she fanned the flame of combustible constituents. Her office was raided and her life threatened. She stood by her not-yet-established right to publish her views.
In 1784, her brother returned to Baltimore and took the paper back from her. But you can’t keep a good woman down. She was named the first female postmaster of the colonies. A decade later, the good old boy system decided a woman shouldn’t travel the distances required by the early post office. A petition was presented with over 200 signatures demanding she be allowed to keep her position. However, the politics of the day prevailed and she was dismissed.
She ran a bookstore until she died in 1816. Although she was one of the first female publishers, postmasters and bookstore owners, many have never heard of this petticoat Patriot.
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