Mary Katherine Goddard to George Washington

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) was born in Connecticut and was the sister of the well-known printer and newspaper publisher William Goddard (1740-1817). The Goddards were the children of Dr. Giles Goddard of New London, Conn., and his wife Sarah Goddard (d. 1770), the daughter of Ludowick Updike of Rhode Island. After her husband’s death, Sarah aided her son William in his Providence, R.I., printing business for two years, and managed his printing house and newspaper—the Providence Gazette—after he moved to Philadelphia.

She established her own firm, Sarah Goddard & Company, aided by Mary Katherine. In 1768 the two women moved to Philadelphia to join William who was now publishing the Pennsylvania Chronicle. Sarah died in 1770, and William moved to Baltimore in 1773, accompanied by his sister. While her brother was involved in other business and political pursuits, including publication of the Maryland Journal, Mary Katherine managed his printing house, and for over eight years—from 1775 to 1784—the Maryland Journal appeared under her name. She also ran the Baltimore post office and kept this position when her brother resumed publication of the Journal in 1784.

In this set of letters, Mary Katherine Goddard, writing in the third person, appeals to the President to reinstate her to the position of Postmaster of the Baltimore post office. Goddard was dismissed by the new Postmaster General, Samuel Osgood, in 1789, after working fourteen years in the position. She accuses Osgood of “treating her in the Stile of an unfriendly delinquent,” and challenges his decision to appoint John White, who has no experience at the position, in her place.

President George Washington, however, refused to interfere. In the spring of 1790 Goddard unsuccessfully pressed her plea for reinstatement and for payment of a claim against the United States in both the Senate and House of Representatives. For the remainder of her life she operated a bookstore in Baltimore.

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Images of Goddard’s letter to Washington, 23 December 1789
(courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C.). Click on images for larger view.

Washington replied to Goddard on 6 Jan. 1790:

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Images of Washington’s reply to Goddard, 6 January 1790
(courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C.). Click on images for larger view.

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