August 4, 2021
One woman from colonial times. One woman from today's time. Both raising a question about one particular sentence in the Declaration of Independence. "𝖂𝖊 𝖍𝖔𝖑𝖉 𝖙𝖍𝖊𝖘𝖊 𝖙𝖗𝖚𝖙𝖍𝖘 𝖙𝖔 𝖇𝖊 𝖘𝖊𝖑𝖋-𝖊𝖛𝖎𝖉𝖊𝖓𝖙,
𝖙𝖍𝖆𝖙 𝖆𝖑𝖑 𝖒𝖊𝖓 𝖆𝖗𝖊 𝖈𝖗𝖊𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖉 𝖊𝖖𝖚𝖆𝖑."
Mary Katharine Goddard inked her name into history, not as a signer of the famous document, but as the printer hired by the Continental Congress in 1777, to print the second and very important version of this historical
American Artist Mindy Belloff uses hand craft letterpress printing to create art that unites historical traditions with modern technology and sensibilities. Wait 'til you see her 2009 printing of the Declaration of Independence.
Two Woman Make their Mark
Declaration of Independence
Mary Katherine Goddard learned the printing and newspaper business at the Providence Gazette and Country Journal, published by her younger brother William and financed by their widowed mother. She followed William on his next two ventures, a newspaper in Philidelphia and then the Maryland Journal in Baltimore.
Mary Katharine appears to have had better business sense than her brother. It's probably a good thing in 1773, he left her to run the newspaper. She removed her brother's name and printed
the Maryland Journal under M.K. Goddard.
She used the power of her press to support
the colonists in their complaints against Britian. Following the first armed skirmishes at Lexington and Concord in 1775 she wrote in the Journal:
“What think ye of Congress now? That day. . . evidenced that Americans would rather die than live slaves!”
The following year in early December 1776, the British captured New York and besieged the Continental Army in New Jersey. Worried, the Continental Congress packed the Declaration of Independence into a wagon and ducked out of Philadelphia to safety in Baltimore.
After Christmas when Congress got news General Washington had crossed the Delaware and won battles in Trenton and Princeton, members decided to order a second
printing of the Declaration of Independence.
Washington crossing the Delaware, near Trenton, New Jersey, America Christmas 1776, by artist Leutze, Emanuel, 1816-1868. Courtesy Library of Congress
The Continental Congress has set up headquarters in Baltimore near Mary Katharine Goddard's printing office/bookstore/post office and newspaper. John Hancock approached Mary and ordered 200 copies of the Declaration to be distributed throughout the colonies, hoping to unite and rally folks to support the revolution.
There was a huge difference between the initial Declaration printed by John Dunlap in Philadelphia on the night of July 4, 1776, and this second printing by Mary Katharine.
Known as the Goddard Broadside, it was the first to use the title The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United
States of America, and it was the first to include the names of the men who signed it.
This, as you know, was printed evidence of treason. It named names and Mary Katherine added hers at the bottom.
Printer Mary Katharine Goddard's name is inked into history. NPS photo
President of Congress John Hancock sent one to each of the
states, accompanied by the following words:
"As there is not a more distinguished Event in the History of America, than the Declaration of her Independence--nor any that in all Probability, will so much excite the
Attention of future Ages...that it may henceforth form a Part of the Archives of your State and remain a lasting Testimony of your approbation of that necessary & important Measure."
While the Goddard Broadside was the first copy of the
Declaration of Independence meant to be preserved, historically, broadsides or broadsheets were printed to be posted on walls and then thrown away.
Broadsides proclaimed events, news, announced laws, offered political commentary etc. They were the most common forms of printed material between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Today, broadside printing is done by smaller printers and publishers as a fine art, producing historical documents in a modified form.
Mindy Belloff, owner of Intima Press in New York City, is the first contemporary printer to recreate the American Declaration of Independence with historically accurate typeface and paper.
As a feminist artist, she suggested Americans still grapple today with some of the language, particularly the
sentence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. "
Mindy Belloff, artist and printer who recreated the Declaration of Independence.
Mindy believes now's the time to clarify the language. Reprinting the Goddard Broadside, she changed the word men to people in two places.
Mindy and her work at her vintage letterpress studio.
"Setting the Declaration in type was enlightening in many ways, as my thoughts throughout the process were of Mary Katharine in her print shop during the cold month of January, not having 21st-century amenities," Mindy told CBS News.
"I could not help but wonder how Mary Katharine must have felt being entrusted to print this stunning proclamation while setting each letter of the text ‘all Men are
We might also wonder if Mary Katharine thought about
race. She descended from a Rhode Island Colony Plantation family and the 1790 census documents one free person besides herself in her household and four enslaved people.
No drawings or paintings of Mary Katharine exist today. None of her letters survived and all that she revealed of herself in her journalism was her passion for the revolutionary cause. At her death Mary Katharine freed Belinda Starling, an enslaved woman and willed her personal property to her.
As a businesswoman and journalist, Mary Katherine Goddard made her own money and lived by herself, an embodiment of the independent spirit of her era.
“Mary Katharine was an incredibly brave woman for her time," said Mindy Belloff. "By her
actions, she was clearly a pioneer for women’s rights and freedom of the press.”
Learn more about the Belloff Broadside here...
Follow me on social media
Read a great book? Have a burning question? Let me know. If you know someone who might enjoy my newsletter or books, please
forward this e-mail. I will never spam you or sell your email address, you can unsubscribe anytime at the link below.
To find out more about my books, how I help students, teachers, librarians and writers visit my website at www.MaryCronkFarrell.com.
Contact me at [email protected]. Click here to subscribe to this newsletter.