Women would not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920. Ironically, 144 years before this oversight was addressed, it was a woman who played a key role in the proclamation of American independence. If you don’t know who this woman is, take a look at the Declaration of Independence, and you will find her name at the very bottom.
When the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, it was critical that word get out as quickly and widely as possible. Word of the break from Great Britain had to be spread so the fires of revolution could be fanned. For this task, Congress turned to Mary Katherine Goddard.
Goddard had already begun to make her name in an otherwise-male world. She was named the first female postmaster in the colonies in 1775, running the busy and crucial Baltimore Post Office, in addition to her printing company.
For the signers of the Declaration, they knew that their identification with the document would be seen as treason in the eyes of King George III, but they bravely chose freedom over security. Mary Katherine Goddard made the same choice. At the bottom of each copy of the Declaration, she proudly — and bravely — added the words, “Baltimore, in Maryland: Printed by Mary Katharine Goddard,” knowing full well that if the Revolution proved to be unsuccessful, she would face the same fate as the men whose signatures appeared above her name.
NOTE: Spelling customs were far from uniform in those days. While the documents spell her middle name as “Katharine,” historians consistently identify her with the spelling of “Katherine.”