Biography of Noah Webster
Celebrated Americans





NOAH WEBSTER. - As a scholar, lawyer, author and journalist, there is no one who stands on a higher plane, or whose reputation is better established than the honored gentleman whose name heads this sketch. He was a native of West Hartford, Connecticut, and was born October 17, 1758. He came of an old New England family, his mother being a descendant of Governor William Bradford, of the Plymouth colony. After acquiring a solid education in early life Dr. Webster entered Yale College, from which he graduated in 1778. For a while he taught school in Hartford, at the same time studying law, and was admitted to the bar in 1781. He taught a classical school at Goshen, Orange county, New York, in 1782-83, and while there prepared his spelling book, grammar and reader, which was issued under the title of "A Grammatical institute of the English Language," "in three parts, -so successful a work that up to 1876 something like forty million of the spelling books had been sold. In 1786 be delivered a course of lectures on the English language in the seaboard cities and the following year taught an academy at Philadelphia. From December 17, 1787, until November, 1788, he edited the "American Magazine," a periodical that proved unsuccessful. In 1789-93 he practiced law in Hartford having in the former year married the daughter of William Greenleaf, of Boston, He returned to New York and November, 1793, founded a daily paper, the "Minerva," to which was soon added a semi weekly edition under the name of the "Herald." The former is still in existence under the name of the "Commercial Advertiser," In this paper, over the signature of "Curtius," he published a lengthy and scholarly defense of "John Jay's treaty."

In 1798, Dr. Webster moved to New Haven and in 1807 commenced the preparation of his great work, the "American Dictionary of the English Language." which was not completed and published until 1828. He made his home in Amherst, Massachusetts, for the ten years succeeding 1812, and was instrumental in the establishment of Amherst College, of which institution he was the first president of the board of trustees. During 1824-5 he resided in Europe, pursuing his philological studies in Paris. He completed his dictionary from the libraries of Cambridge University in 1825, and devoted his leisure for the remainder of his life to the revision of that and his school books.

Dr. Webster was a member of the legislatures of both Connecticut and Massachusetts, was judge of one of the courts of the former state and was identified with nearly all the literary and scientific societies in the neighborhood of Amherst College. He died in New Haven, May 28, 1843.

Among the more prominent works emanating from the fecund pen of Dr. Noah Webster besides those mentioned above are the following: "Sketches of American Policy," "Winthrop's Journal," "A Brief History of Epidemics," "Rights of Neutral Nations in time of War," "A Philosophical and Practical Grammar of the English Language1" "Dissertations on the English Language," Collection of Essays," "The Revolution in France," "Political Progress of Britain," ''Origin, History, and Connection of the Languages of Western Asia and of Europe," and many others,


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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