In he was depressed and uncertain about his prospects. His solution to his malaise was to write a spelling book. He could not have known his cure for the blues would teach generations of American children to read and help make America the most literate nation in Western history. He was born Oct. His family was prominent, but poor. His father had to mortgage his farm to send him to Yale College in New Haven.
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In he was depressed and uncertain about his prospects. His solution to his malaise was to write a spelling book. He could not have known his cure for the blues would teach generations of American children to read and help make America the most literate nation in Western history.
He was born Oct. His family was prominent, but poor. His father had to mortgage his farm to send him to Yale College in New Haven. The American Revolution disrupted his studies, causing food shortages and the threat of British invasion.
He wanted to practice law, but after he graduated he found the war had suppressed demand for lawyers. In late , he was 20 years old and, in his own words ,. Noah Webster, Sr. Noah Webster, Jr. He did the only thing he was qualified for: he opened a school in Sharon, Conn.
In his dissertation he argued that education was important to spread the Christian religion. He also courted year-old Juliana Smith, sister to a future governor, but she rejected him as too boring.
He turned his attention to Rebecca Pardee, a beautiful young woman who was torn between him and a Continental Army major. He spent the winter looking for a job, without any luck. There he was able to open a school. Webser, though, was depressed and fearful. In his memoirs he described himself in the third person:.
The speller then in use on both sides of the Atlantic was written by an English clergyman named Thomas Dilworth. Webster considered it wrong for a country then fighting for independence from its oppressor. Webster was an ardent nationalist who wanted the blue-backed speller, along with the dictionary he would eventually write, to create a uniquely American language and education.
He furiously went to work on his speller with the aim of developing a new standard of spelling and pronunciation. The blue-backed speller has been published continuously since under several titles , with nearly million copies printed. It took decades longer to prevent other people from stealing his work. Noah Webster lobbied for years for a national copyright law. He finally succeeded in with the help of his distant relative , Daniel Webster. By then he may have known how popular the blue-backed speller had become.
Many of the founding fathers home-schooled their children with the book. Benjamin Franklin used it to teach his granddaughter to read. From the depths of depression and unrequited love, Noah Webster laid the foundation for American education for more than a century. Language - New England Historical Society. You must be logged in to post a comment Login. You must be logged in to post a comment. New England Historical Society.
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Noah Webster Jr. October 16, — May 28, was an American lexicographer , textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer , political writer , editor, and prolific author. He has been called the "Father of American Scholarship and Education". His "Blue-backed Speller" books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read. Webster's name has become synonymous with "dictionary" in the United States, especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in as An American Dictionary of the English Language. He passed the bar examination after studying law under Oliver Ellsworth and others, but was unable to find work as a lawyer. He found some financial success by opening a private school and writing a series of educational books, including the "Blue-Backed Speller.
Webster's Blue-Backed Speller
As the Revolutionary War was ending in , a former soldier in that conflict named Noah Webster published a book that was to have an enormous influence on American culture. The book in question is the first volume of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, a three-volume work that sought to transform the way Americans were taught to speak and write English. With this publication Webster hoped to extend the ideals of the American Revolution into the realms of language and literature. A Grammatical Institute of the English Language was a success, particularly volume one, which dealt with spelling and related topics. Revised versions of the book remained in general use for the whole of the 19th century. The book has never been out of print, and about million copies have been sold so far. He believed that the American people were the proper arbiters of correct speech, and that spelling should be simplified and brought into better agreement with pronunciation.
Noah Webster Cures the Blues With a Spelling Book
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