End of Career

A copy of Mary’s petition letter

After her unforgettable act of printing the Declaration and the brief moment of fame it brought her, Mary Katherine Goddard’s name began to fade. In 1784 her name stopped appearing on the Maryland Journal. It is thought that her older brother William was jealous of her success and since it was his print operation he forced her to quit her work. There is a record of 5 lawsuits that she filed against her brother (“National Women’s History Museum”). For years William had taken advantage of his sister, she was doing all the work but he received much of the credit and did not really seem to pay much attention to her work. But, when she began publishing under her own name, printed the Declaration of Independence, and was really beginning to make a name for herself, it seems he began to notice. Because of the gender inequality of the time he was easily able to remove Mary’s name from the colophon on the Maryland Journal, replacing it with his own, and to stop her from working for him.

Mary’s brother was not the only man who felt that, as a woman, Mary had too much freedom and power. In 1789 she was forced out of her position as Baltimore postmaster, in favour of a male worker. The reason they gave for her removal of position was that the job format was changing and would require a lot more travel; something they felt was beyond a woman’s capabilities at the time (“Mary Katherine Goddard”, 2001).

Mary, being the strong, independent woman that she was refused to go quietly. She appealed to George Washington and Congress. She even had 200 Baltimore businessmen sign her petition (“Mary Katherine Goddard”, 2001) which proved that she was well respected by other members of the community. In the petition Mary described all of her hard work and effort that went into her position, explained that she had done nothing wrong, and wrote about how unfairly she was treated in not being provided with any true reason for her removal. It also stated that she is just as capable, if not more so, than Mr. White (the man who was replacing her) or any other person that might be appointed to the office (“First Federal Congress”, 2000). Unfortunately her appeal was never granted and her name continued to fade.

She never married nor had any children. She returned to her own smaller side business of running a small dry good store and a stationary business until 1810. As well as continuing to run a bookstore until her death in 1816, at the age of 78 (“Mary Katherine Goddard”, 2012).


Image Source: First Federal Congress: Petitioning the Federal Government. (2000). Retrieved April 07, 2016, from https://www.gwu.edu/~ffcp/exhibit/p11/p11_3text.html

Cited Sources

First Federal Congress: Petitioning the Federal Government. (2000). Retrieved April 07, 2016, from https://www.gwu.edu/~ffcp/exhibit/p11/p11_3text.html

Mary Katherine Goddard, Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. (2001). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/goddard.html

Mary Katherine Goddard, MSA SC 3520-2809. (2012, July 26). Retrieved April 04, 2016, from http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/002800/002809/html/2809bio.html

National Women’s History Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/mary-katherine-goddard/


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