Anne Catherine Hoof Green
Charles Willson Peale, 1741-1827
Oil on canvas, 1769
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution Gallery purchase with funding from the Smithsonian Collections Acquisitions Program and gift from the Governor's Mansion Foundation of Maryland
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In colonial America, the options open to a woman having to earn her own living were sharply limited and generally not lucrative. As a result, the premature death of a husband often spelled economic disaster for his widow. Anne Green of Annapolis, Maryland, proved a notable exception. When her husband, Jonas, died in 1767, she unhesitatingly took over the running of his printing business, which included publishing the Maryland Gazette and serving as the colony's official printer. Under her guidance, the enterprise thrived, and she became one of the few women of her era to attain success in the male-dominated world of business.
Anne Green shared in the dissatisfactions with British rule that were mounting in Maryland in the late 1760s and early 1770s, and the pages of her Gazette carried some of the most notable pre-Revolutionary attacks on British policy. At the same time, however, Green did not want to alienate the colony=s more conservative elements for fear that she might lose valuable business. Thus, she remained careful to balance the Gazette's challenges to the colonial status quo with contributions that defended it.
Green sat for this portrait by Charles Willson Peale shortly after the artist's return to America in 1769 from several years of study in London. The words "ANNAPOLIS Printer to . . . ," which appear on the paper held by Green, are a reference to the fact that the Maryland legislature had chosen her to succeed her husband as the colony's official printera turn of events that was doubtless the source of considerable professional pride.