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m. 12 Jan 1749
Facts and Events
American lexicographer and textbook author whose name became synonymous with "dictionary", especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828.
He entered Yale in 1774, walking to class in New Haven from his fathers farm. His father mortgaged the farm to pay the tuition. At this time, Yale College had 150 students and 2 professors & 3 tutors. A degree consisted of 4yrs spent in the acquisition of Latin & Greek, a smattering of mathematics, logic, rhetoric & metaphysics. A few months after he started school came the thrilling story of victory at Lexington & Concord, followed by Bunker Hill. His education was interrupted in 1777.
At the advance of Gen.Burgoyne's Army and a large band of Indians, the West Hartford militia, commanded by his father, including Noah & his brothers, marched to the Hudson & was part of a brilliant victory. Burgoyne's surrender played a large part in the subsequent American victory & the militia, with all 4 Websters, came home heroes. In 1778, Noah graduated from Yale. His father gave him an eight-dollar bill of the Continental currency, worth about $4 in silver.
He was a prodigious worker. He wished to be a lawyer, but his aptitude led him steadily toward philology and his monumental work, "The American Dictionary of the English Language". He taught school & began to formulate the basis for his famous spelling book, one of the foremost textbooks of its kind. He was principal of an academy in Philadelphia, where he met his wife. He wrote valuable summaries for the Constitutional Convention which was in session in 1787. He delivered lectures on the English Language. He moved to New York in 1788 and established a magazine which failed. The following year he returned to Hartford and began to practice law. His practice became large and profitable. In 1793 he again went to NYC and started a magazine and a newspaper. In 1798, he became one of the founders of the college in Amhert, MA & president of the first board of trustees. In 1822 he returned to New Haven, CT & he was honored by Yale College with a doctorate degree(LL.D).
He published in 1799 two volumes on Epidemics. In 1802 he wrote on the origins of Banking & Insurance. In 1807 he published "Philosophical and Practical Grammar of the English Language", a text for standardized spelling & grammar. For 36 years he labored in the production of his Dictionary and in his 70th yr -1828- he brought it to completion and published its first edition in two volumes."The American Dictionary of the English Language" was the first book of its kind in America. The work attempted to define the words of the English language as spoken in America. It had required a trip to Europe in 1824 with two months at Paris at the Royal Library and 8 mos at Cambridge University in England. He finished the work in Jan 1825. A revised edition was published in 1841with a preface written by Noah Webster himself, telling of the production of the work.
He and Rebecca had 7 children. Noah died in New Haven, CT in 1843 at age 91. He is buried with his wife in the Grove Street Cemetery.
Early in his life he was interested in the genealogy of the Webster Family. In 1836 he prepared an 8 page pamphlet entitled, "Genealogy. Family of John Webster. Compiled by N. Webster." Several things he printed have since been dis-proven. He also erected the monument at the Old Hadley Cemetery in 1818, honoring Gov. John & the others who founded Hadley.S1
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Noah Webster.