Noah Webster, L.L.D. (1758-1853)

Author of “An American Dictionary”
and “Sketches of American Policy”

1758 Born on October 16th in West Hartford, Connecticut
1778 Graduated from Yale College
1781 Admitted to the bar
1783 Published “Grammatical Institute of the English Language”
1784 Published “The American Spelling Book”
1785
 
Published “An American Selection of
Lessons in Reading and Speaking”
1785 Published “Sketches of American Policy”
1789 Published “Dissertations on the English Language”
1790
 
Published “A Collection of Essays and Fugitive Writings
on Moral, Historical, Political and Literary Subjects”
1793 Published “Effects of Slavery on Morals and Industry.”
1799
 
Published “A Brief History of Epidemic and
Pestilential Diseases”
1790
 
Published “A Collection of Essays and Fugitive Writings
on Moral, Historical, Political and Literary Subjects”
1806
 
Published “Compendious Dictionary of the
English Language
1811
 
“The Peculiar Doctrines of the Gospel explained and
Defended” published from his letter to a friend in Boston.
1828
 
Published the “American Dictionary of the English
Language,” the first American Dictionary.
1833
 
Published the “Common Version Translation of The
Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments”
1843 Died in New Haven, Connecticut

 

During a recent visit to Noah Webster’s house in West Hartford, Connecticut, we were given a tour by their Guide, who majored upon wool-spinning in one room; the discarding of refuse through a window in the kitchen; and “Webster making his local rounds in an attempt to sell his text-books.” Was this founding father that insignificant?

Noah Webster has been called “Father of American Scholarship and Education.” His “blue-backed speller” books were used to teach spelling and reading to five generations of American children. He is renowned world-wide for his first American Dictionary – “An American Dictionary of the English Language – with pronouncing vocabularies of Scripture, classical and geographic names” published in 1828, after his spending two months at “La Biblioteque du Roi” in Paris, and a subsequent eight months at Cambridge University in England, studying the etymology of words.
There were 2,500 copies printed, followed by an edition of 3,000 copies in England. It contained 12,000 words and 40,000 definitions not found in any similar publication. In 1840-41 he published a second edition in two volumes with extensive additions to the vocabulary.”1
An 1828 newspaper article announced the completion of Webster’s famous dictionary, as follows:

Noah Webster, Esq., author of the Spelling Book, has given notice in the Eastern newspapers, that he has completed a Dictionary of our language, “at the expense of 20 years of labor, and thirty thousand dollars in money.” He mentions that he made a visit to England, partly with a view to ascertain the real state of the language, and there discovered that no book whatever was considered a rule in that country as a standard of orthoepy. He observes, incidentally, that not less than 7 millions of copies of his Spelling Book have been sold. He thinks that the English dictionaries are all half a century behind the state of science, and hopes that his fellow citizens will be furnished with something better in the one which he is about to publish.

Noah Webster is famous throughout the world as an American lexicographer, textbook author, spelling reformer, and translator of the Bible. He is honored in the Connecticut Hall of Fame, in Hartford, Connecticut.

To learn more, click here. (Founders’ book)

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Bibliography:

1

The Encyclopedia Americana. (Vol. 29). New York: Americana Corporation, 1940, p. 151.

 

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