Noah Webster

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Noah Webster (October 16, 1758 – May 28, 1843) was an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English 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 children in the United States how to spell and read, and made their education more secular and less religious. In the U.S. his name became synonymous with "dictionary," especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language.



Noah Webster was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to an established Yankee family. His father Noah Sr. (1722–1813) farmed 90 acres (360,000 m2), was justice of the peace and deacon of the local Congregational church, and was captain on the "alarm list" of the local militia. Noah's father was a descendant of Connecticut Governor John Webster; his mother Mercy (née Steele; d. 1794) was a descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.[1]

In 1774, at the age of 16, he matriculated at Yale College in New Haven, studying with the learned Ezra Stiles, Yale's president. His four years at Yale overlapped with the American Revolutionary War, and because of food shortages, many of his college classes were held in other towns. He served in the Connecticut Militia. His father had mortgaged the farm to send Webster to Yale, but the son was now on his own and had no more to do with his family.[2] After graduating Yale in 1778, he taught school in Glastonbury, Hartford, and West Hartford. He was admitted to the bar in 1781 and practiced after 1789. Discovering that law was not to his liking, he tried teaching, setting up several very small schools that did not thrive.

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