This woman’s name appears on the Declaration of Independence. So why don’t we know her story?

This Fourth of July, look closely at one of those printed copies of the Declaration of Independence.

The woman’s name at the bottom?

It’s Mary Katharine Goddard.

If you’ve never noticed it or heard of her, you aren’t alone. She’s a Founding Mother, of sorts, yet few folks know about her. And some of America’s earliest bureaucrats did their best to shut her down. Same old, same old.

Goddard was fearless her entire career as one of America’s first female publishers, printing scoops from Revolutionary War battles from Concord to Bunker Hill and continuing to publish after her offices were twice raided and her life was repeatedly threatened by haters.

Yup, she faced down the Twitter trolls of 1776.

In her boldest move, Goddard put her full name at the bottom of all the copies of the Declaration that her printing presses churned out and distributed to the colonies. It was the first copy young America would see that included the original signers’ names — and Congress commissioned her for the important job.

Her fiery editorials had, after all, set the tone for pivotal moments in the revolution.

“The ever memorable 19th of April gave a conclusive answer to the questions of American freedom,” she wrote in her Maryland Journal editorial after the start of the Revolutionary War. “What think ye of Congress now? That day . . . evidenced that Americans would rather die than live slaves!”

Until Goddard got the assignment from Congress to print and distribute copies of the Declaration, it was more like an anonymous Internet post than a document of record.
 

 

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