Legendary Businesswomen

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating legendary businesswomen in America. Despite the restrictions that they faced, these women dominated in the workforce. Part one of this three-part series honored two trailblazing female tycoons: Madam C. J. Walker and Lydia Estes Pinkham. Part two focuses on women who achieved great firsts in the newspaper industry.

Legendary businesswomen: Mary Katherine Goddard and Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738- 1816)

Mary Katherine Goddard was an independent woman who made a name for herself, even as she worked in her brother’s shadow. When she was 24 years old her family started printing businesses in Rhodes Island and Pennsylvania. Although her younger brother was technically in charge, he was always away or in trouble, so Mary Katherine kept the businesses running. It wasn’t until Mary Katherine started working on their Maryland newspapers (the Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser) that she finally used the title of publisher. She printed the first copy of the Declaration of Independence that included the signers’ names, and she later became the first female postmaster in colonial America.

Constitution of the United States

Unfortunately, Mary Katherine’s success was challenged. Her jealous brother forced her to quit their newspaper business, and she was later forced out of her postmaster position because the officials wanted a male appointee instead. Mary Katherine stuck to her guns and fought for her positions. She filed lawsuits against her brother and appealed to George Washington and Congress for her postmaster position. Though she didn’t win, her gumption and achievements remain an inspiration.

(Read more of her story here.)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893)

Mary Ann Shadd Cary was a businesswoman who spent her life educating children, keeping the public informed, and fighting for the rights of her community. Born in Delaware, Mary Ann was the daughter of free African Americans. At the time it was forbidden for African Americans to get an education in Delaware. Mary Ann’s family moved to Pennsylvania. After attending a Quaker boarding school, Mary Ann spent 12 years teaching African American children in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania. She and her family later moved to Canada where she started a school for children of all races.

Fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad

Fortunately, teaching isn’t the only way Mary Ann helped her community. In Canada, she started a newspaper called The Provincial Freeman. This was a weekly publication for African Americans who had recently escaped slavery. With her newspaper endeavor, she became the first female African-American newspaper editor in North America. Mary Ann also returned to the U.S. during the Civil War. She worked as a Union Army recruiting officer, encouraging other African Americans to fight the Confederacy and end slavery. And toward the end of her life, Mary Ann got a law degree—she was the second African-American woman in the United States to do so.

(Read more of her story here.)


Bonus. Want to learn about more trailblazing American businesswomen? Check back later for part three of this series!

More Mindful Hero® Articles

Caring For Our Military
Military families are our nation’s unsung heroes. They make sacrifices and carry on through long...
Read More
Honor Our Veterans Today and Every Day
Veterans Day is a time in which we honor the courage and strength of our...
Read More
Asian Pacific American Trailblazers!
You should know May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and...
Read More
#SayHerName: Marielle Franco
The murder of Marielle Franco, a Brazilian city councilor, was a shock not just to...
Read More
14 Girl Scouts Who’ve Made History
March is a special month for the Girl Scouts. Not only is it Women’s History...
Read More
15 Activists to Celebrate for Women’s History Month
Happy Women’s History Month! What began in 1978 as a weeklong celebration in the school district...
Read More
Mary Francis Hill Coley: Midwife Activist
Known for her progressive views on childbirth, Mary Francis Hill Coley was an influential midwife...
Read More
The Moses of her People
Black History Month Hero Harriet Tubman is an epic historical figure. Not only did she...
Read More
4 Black Athletes Making Olympic History
Black History Month is a time to celebrate culture as well as inspirational people who...
Read More
Lindsey Vonn: The Speed Queen
February 9th marks the beginning of the 2018 Winter Olympics, hosted in PyeongChang. Some of...
Read More

Join the Mindful Living CommUNITY® online!