Clementina Rind became the proprietor of a business through personal tragedy. Her husband, William Rind, who ran a printing office, died at the age of 43, leaving an estate valued at £272, half of which was represented by equipment used in his shop. The Rind family had moved to Williamsburg from Annapolis in 1766 when William was solicited by some Virginia burgesses to publish a second newspaper, whose content was not controlled by the governor. As Thomas Jefferson wrote 40 years later: "We had but one press, and that having the whole business of the government, and no competitor for public favor, nothing disagreeable to the governor could be got into it." Prior to his arrival in Williamsburg, these burgesses sent articles deemed too radical by the Williamsburg printer to Rind. He had printed them in The Maryland Gazette.
Within a few months, Virginia's House of Burgesses elected Rind as Public Printer for the Colony, a post that he held until his death in August 1773. Left with five small children to support, Clementina took over the family business. A week later, in her first issue as editor of The Virginia Gazette, she retained the masthead that her husband had used, "Open to ALL PARTIES, but Influenced by NONE." In that same issue she sought sympathy from her readers, emphasizing the current financial plight of her family: "May that All Ruling Power, whose chastening Hand has snatched from my dear Infants and myself our whole Dependence, make me equal to the Task." She asked for prompt payment from those placing advertisements and requested continued favor from the House of Burgesses, hoping to inherit her husband's position as public printer. This position, which had the responsibility of printing the General Assembly's laws and proceedings, government proclamations and paper currency, carried with it a salary of £450.
Clementina Rind was not the only printer in Williamsburg at that time. Her shop was located in what is presently the Ludwell-Paradise House, one block from where her competitors, Alexander Purdie and John Dixon, ran a printing office and published a newspaper, also named The Virginia Gazette, as well as books, almanacs and printed forms.
While both newspapers carried much of the same content, Rind's editorial sensibilities were evident in her inclusion of recent developments in science, improvements in education and amusing vignettes of European high society. She frequently printed Virginia counties' resolves and similar measures passed by other Colonies to protest the Boston Port Act, which closed that port to trade.
Her coverage of the arrival of Lady Dunmore to join her husband, the royal governor, in March 1774 contrasts sharply with Purdie and Dixon's factual — but impersonal — reporting of that event. Rind's account is graphic, describing a misfiring of the cannon in the salute to Lady Dunmore and the serious injuries that resulted to the men and slaves attending it. "They received considerable damage; the arms, face, and eyes … being bruised; … one of them having lost three fingers … the other is much burnt in the face." She includes her own verse of warm welcome to the governor's wife, describing her delight in having the family reunited, and at the same time, intimating how her own tragedy has influenced her life.
Long may they live — to virtue aspire,
And catch the bright
example of their sire.
May watchful angels ever guard their fate,
And make you happy as you're good and great …
There was controversy during her tenure. An ATTENTIVE OBSERVER, writing anonymously in Purdie and Dixon's Gazette, criticized her for sacrificing her husband's principles by refusing to print a piece that leveled serious allegations against certain individuals. In the next issue of her newspaper, Rind wrote that having received "a severe reprimand" she felt obligated to defend herself and indicated that "When the author gives up his name, it shall, however repugnant to my inclination, have a place in this paper."
Her most memorable accomplishment came in August 1774, a month before her death. Virginia was preparing to send a delegation to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which was convening to respond to the Intolerable Acts, punitive laws that Parliament had imposed on the Colonies. Thomas Jefferson wrote instructions to the delegates, but the House of Burgesses found them too extreme to endorse. Instead, Clementina Rind printed them as an anonymous publication, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which was also issued in Philadelphia, New York and London. This was the first document to oppose British rule over the Colonies, and Jefferson's role in writing the pamphlet was widely known. Two years later, he was chosen to write the Declaration of Independence. In this pamphlet, Rind fulfilled the purpose for which her husband had been brought to Virginia. Her death following a "tedious and painful illness" was announced in an issue of The Virginia Gazette, printed by John Pinckney, bearing the masthead "for the benefit of Clementina Rind's estate."