William Goddard

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William Goddard

Death: 1817 (76-77)
Immediate Family:

Son of Giles Goddard and Sarah Goddard
Husband of Abigail Angell
Father of William Giles Goddard; Sarah Goddard; Eliza Goddard and Mary Angell Goddard
Brother of Mary Katherine Goddard

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About William Goddard

William Goddard (1740–1817) was an American patriot and printer born in New London, Connecticut who lived through the era of the American Revolution. Goddard served as an apprentice printer under James Parker and then in 1762 became an early American publisher who eventually founded several newspapers during his lifetime. His Mother, Father and sister were also involved with printing and publishing in the middle 18th century. For a short term William was also a postmaster of Providence, Rhode Island. Later his newspaper partnership with Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia would play an important role in the development of Franklin's ideas for a postal system in the soon to be united colonies. Franklin was postmaster of Philadelphia from 1759 to 1775 when he was dismissed by the British Crown for exposing the letters of Massachusetts Governor Hutchinson. Goddard's association with Franklin while he was serving as postmaster in Philadelphia played an important role when Franklin introduced many of the reforms and improvements needed in the colonial postal system in use then.

Goddard is renowned for his innovations for a postal system that came to be used between the various colonies prior to the advent of the American Revolution.

Taken from:




William Goddard was the son of Dr. Giles Goddard(a physician and one-time postmaster of New London, Connecticut) and Sarah Updike. William, as a youth, was apprenticed to James Parker, a printer. Upon coming of age, William moved to Rhode Island and established the first newspaper to be printed out of Providence, the Providence Gazette and Country Journal. The first issue was produced in October, 1762. In 1765 (possibly earlier), Sarah Goddard became associated with her son in the production of the paper. William moved to New York after the repeal of the Stamp Act, and his mother, under the business name of "Sarah Goddard & Co.", took over the Gazette with the assistance of John Carter. Carter took over the paper when Sarah's company was dissolved in 1769.

William seems to have been somewhat restless; over the length of his newspaper career, he established or was involved with separate publications in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Besides a newspaper, he also started, shortly after arriving in Baltimore, a line of post-riders from New Hampshire to Georgia, thereby establishing what became the United States Postal Service (a service which rivaled the existing English post-office system). Whenever he devoted time to this enterprise (and other business), his sister Mary Katherine took over management of his newspaper, The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser (est. 1773). Mary Katherine also served as Baltimore's post-mistress, from 1775 to 1789, the first woman in the country to hold such office, and published the official copies of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1792, William sold his long-established newspaper and retired to a farm at Johnston, Rhode Island. His sister Mary Katherine remained in Baltimore, where she kept a bookshop until 1802, and also retained a share in the newspaper she had helped to manage.

William had married Abigail Angell: 25 May 1785, and they had five children, four daughters and one son: William Giles Goddard [1794-1846], who was also involved in the newspaper business for a time in his younger years.

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William Goddard's Timeline

January 2, 1794
Johnston, Providence, RI
Age 77