Noah Webster: A Man of Many Words
by Alyssa Liljequist (17)
Noah Webster is remembered for his diligent efforts to create a distinctly American dictionary. This same industrious nature was visible in his life as a young man. In his teens, he studied with a minister named Nathan Perkins. After that, he attended Yale University. He started teaching school and since there were almost no American textbooks in schools, Noah started to write one. It would later be called the Blue-Backed Speller. Noah Webster also studied law. He read many books on the subject and studied very hard. Finally, he passed the exam to become a lawyer. However, he was not able to get a job in law. Instead, he started a school where he taught girls and boys literature, vocal music, reading, geography, writing, and the English language.
Noah Webster showed great determination. Early on in his life, when the Blue-Backed Speller was a success and thousands of copies sold, some people started to change the book just a tiny bit and then print it under their own name. Instead of giving up, Noah traveled from town to town selling the speller and trying to get national Copyright laws passed. His perseverance is also seen in the fact that it took him twenty-five years to write his 1828 Dictionary and it contains the definitions for seventy thousand different words. In order to know where words came from and write an accurate dictionary, he learned twenty languages!
Most importantly of all, Noah Webster was God-fearing. Every morning, Noah rose at daybreak and after he finished dressing, he went to his study to pray. In about thirty minutes, he would wake his children up. Then, the family gathered in the parlor and Noah led them in prayer and read the Bible to them. Because of his faith in God, his 1828 dictionary often quotes Bible verses as examples. His Blue-Backed Speller included many moral lessons taken out of the Scriptures. It also had good, common sense advice. An example is the saying, "He that lies down with dogs must rise up with fleas."
Noah Webster?s 1828 Dictionary is a testimony to his diligence, determination, and faith. To this day, many still prefer his dictionary to the modern versions.