The Original Blue Back Speller : Noah Webster :
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The dismal conditions of these schools, combined with his patriotism and a search for self-identity, inspired him to compose three schoolbooks that, he believed, would unify the new nation through speaking and writing a common language. Previously, almost all American schoolbooks had been reprints of imported British ones. Part one of Webster's A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, a spelling book, was printed in ; part two, a grammar, in ; part three, a reader a compilation of essays and poetry for children who could already readin Webster then left on an eighteen-month tour south to promote his books and register them for state copyright, in the absence of national copyright legislation.
He began editing periodicals in New York: Between the two came his marriage to Rebecca Greenleaf inthe publication of various collections of essays, and an introduction to his reader, the Little Reader's Assistant In he retreated from politics and periodicals to New Haven and helped open a private school there.
After publishing a commercially unsuccessful history of epidemics, Webster began writing schoolbooks with renewed vigor, issuing the first three volumes of Elements of Useful Knowledge — He had obtained national copyright protection for his speller inwhen the first national copyright law was passed, a law that granted protection for fourteen-year periods.
However, the income from his speller, for which he negotiated a penny a copy in the date of his first copyright renewalcould not support his large family, and in he moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, to economize. He was instrumental there in founding Amherst Academy, now Amherst College. In Webster sold the entire rights to the American Spelling Book for its third copyright period, toto Hudson and Company of Hartford, Connecticut, in order to work solely on his major dictionary.
Inwith his son William to aid him, he voyaged to Europe to complete it. From then until his death in Webster issued several other schoolbooks and a bowdlerized edition of the Bible. The latter was the fruit of a conversion experience to fundamentalist Christianity in Webster's Innovations One of Webster's most important and lasting contributions to American English was to change, for the better, the spellings of certain groups of words from their British spelling. He used the principle of uniformity to justify his alterations, arguing that words that were alike, such as nouns and their derivatives, should be spelled alike.
He therefore transformed words such as honour to honor compare honorificmusick to music compare musical —the latter a change now adopted by the British—defence to defense compare defensive and centre to center. This last alteration actually violated his own principle—compare central —but brought centre and congruent words into conformity with numerous other words ending -er. Webster also respelled many anomalous British spellings, writing gaol as jail, and plough as plow.
Noah Webster - Wikipedia
Earlier, in works such as the Little Reader's Assistant, Webster had gone much further with his reforms, with spellings such as yung and nabor. However, these had evoked so much ridicule that he soon abandoned them. His ability to introduce his major classes of spelling reform into his spellers and dictionaries was crucial to their success, as they became imprinted on the minds of each new generation.
Webster's second major contribution to American education was in the field of lexicography. Indeed, the word Webster is still virtually synonymous with dictionary.
Although Webster issued a small stopgap dictionary, his Compendious Dictionary, inhis masterpiece was his An American Dictionary of the English Language ofa two-volume work of more than 70, entries and the first truly American dictionary. In it, Webster eliminated words that were not useful to Americans, such as words associated with coats of arms, and included those unique to the United Stateslike squash and skunk.
Webster was not equally successful in all aspects of his dictionary. By modern standards, his etymologies are flawed. His conversion to fundamentalist Christianity had led him to believe in one original language as the progenitor of all the rest, and his etymologies were compromised by his efforts to fit all words into this framework.
On the other hand, he brought a new approach to definitions, which were more accurate, comprehensive, and logically organized than in any previous dictionary. His orthography has become standard American orthography. His indication of pronunciations by the use of diacritical marks was also innovative; lexicographers still use similar markings in the early twenty-first century.
Perfecting the Spelling Book for Reading Instruction Important as Webster's lexicographical work was, his contributions to the spelling book tradition were even more significant. His spellers enjoyed vastly greater popularity than any other of his works. His original speller, the first part of the Institutesold out its first edition of 5, copies within a few months.
By more than a million copies of its revision, the American Spelling Book ofhad been printed, most of them in Hartford and Boston. From to Webster's account books document the sales of licenses of another 3, copies. Between andthe third copyright period, an estimated 3 million copies were printed. Even higher numbers are documented for Webster's completely revamped version, the Elementary Spelling Book ofwhich he published in response to what he perceived as the slipping sales of the American Spelling Book under Hudson and Company.Juice WRLD "Lucid Dreams (Forget Me)" (Official Audio)
Betweenthe Elementary's first publication, andthe year of Webster's death, almost 3, copies were licensed for sale. Over all its editions, a conservative estimate puts the total sales of the speller at 70 million. The national popularity and huge sales of Webster's spelling books can only be understood if it is appreciated that they were books designed primarily to teach children to read, and only secondarily to spell, through the alphabet method of reading instruction.
The underlying assumption of all spelling books was that "reading" defined as oral, not silent, reading was a matter of pronouncing words, spelled aloud syllable by syllable, and that once a word was pronounced correctly, comprehension would follow.
Webster's contribution to the spelling book tradition was to indicate how words should be pronounced. He introduced a system of numerical superscripts to indicate vowel pronunciation and altered the syllabification of words to their present format si-ster now became sis-ter. In his final revision, the Elementary ofWebster replaced the superscripts with diacritical marks very similar to those he had used in his American Dictionary a year earlier—another innovation.
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Other Works A fourth contribution to education by Webster was to originate works that others would improve upon. Years later, he described the teachers as the "dregs of humanity" and complained that the instruction was mainly in religion.
His four years at Yale overlapped the American Revolutionary War and, because of food shortages and threatened British invasions, many of his classes had to be held in other towns.
Webster served in the Connecticut Militia. His father had mortgaged the farm to send Webster to Yale, but he was now on his own and had nothing more to do with his family. He quit to study law. Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver EllsworthWebster also taught full-time in Hartford—which was grueling, and ultimately impossible to continue.
He received a master's degree from Yale by giving an oral dissertation to the Yale graduating class. Later that year, he opened a small private school in western Connecticut that was a success. Nevertheless, he soon closed it and left town, probably because of a failed romance.
To replace it, he sought to create a utopian America, cleansed of luxury and ostentation and the champion of freedom. American nationalism was superior to Europe because American values were superior, he claimed.
She laughs at their folly and shuns their errors: She founds her empire upon the idea of universal toleration: She admits all religions into her bosom; She secures the sacred rights of every individual; and astonishing absurdity to Europeans! Webster dedicated his Speller and Dictionary to providing an intellectual foundation for American nationalism. In terms of political theory, he de-emphasized virtue a core value of republicanism and emphasized widespread ownership of property a key element of Federalism.
It was not Rousseau's politics but his ideas on pedagogy in Emile that influenced Webster in adjusting his Speller to the stages of a child's development. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. April Learn how and when to remove this template message To the Friends of Literature in the United States, Webster's prospectus for his first dictionary of the English language, — Webster married well and had joined the elite in Hartford but did not have much money.
In December, he founded New York's first daily newspaper American Minerva later known as the Commercial Advertiserwhich he edited for four years, writing the equivalent of 20 volumes of articles and editorials.
As a Federalist spokesman, he defended the administrations of George Washington and John Adamsespecially their policy of neutrality between Britain and France, and he especially criticized the excesses of the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror. As a result, he was repeatedly denounced by the Jeffersonian Republicans as "a pusillanimous, half-begotten, self-dubbed patriot," "an incurable lunatic," and "a deceitful newsmonger He wrote so much that a modern bibliography of his published works required pages.
He moved back to New Haven in ; he was elected as a Federalist to the Connecticut House of Representatives in and — Copyright[ edit ] The Copyright Act of was the first major statutory revision of U. As a teacher, he had come to dislike American elementary schools. They could be overcrowded, with up to seventy children of all ages crammed into one-room schoolhouses. They had poor, underpaid staff, no desks, and unsatisfactory textbooks that came from England.
Webster thought that Americans should learn from American books, so he began writing the three volume compendium A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. The work consisted of a speller published ina grammar published inand a reader published in His goal was to provide a uniquely American approach to training children. His most important improvement, he claimed, was to rescue "our native tongue" from "the clamour  of pedantry" that surrounded English grammar and pronunciation.
He complained that the English language had been corrupted by the British aristocracy, which set its own standard for proper spelling and pronunciation. The appropriate standard for the American language, argued Webster, was "the same republican principles as American civil and ecclesiastical constitutions. The Speller was arranged so that it could be easily taught to students, and it progressed by age. From his own experiences as a teacher, Webster thought that the Speller should be simple and gave an orderly presentation of words and the rules of spelling and pronunciation.
He believed that students learned most readily when he broke a complex problem into its component parts and had each pupil master one part before moving to the next. Ellis argues that Webster anticipated some of the insights currently associated with Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development.
The Original Blue Back Speller : New York 1824; Patriotic Textbook Series
Webster said that children pass through distinctive learning phases in which they master increasingly complex or abstract tasks. Therefore, teachers must not try to teach a three-year-old how to read; they could not do it until age five.
He organized his speller accordingly, beginning with the alphabet and moving systematically through the different sounds of vowels and consonants, then syllables, then simple words, then more complex words, then sentences. Over the course of editions in his lifetime, the title was changed in to The American Spelling Book, and again in to The Elementary Spelling Book.
Most people called it the "Blue-Backed Speller" because of its blue cover and, for the next one hundred years, Webster's book taught children how to read, spell, and pronounce words. It was the most popular American book of its time; byit had sold 15 million copies, and some 60 million by —reaching the majority of young students in the nation's first century.
Its royalty of a half-cent per copy was enough to sustain Webster in his other endeavors. It also helped create the popular contests known as spelling bees. Handwritten drafts of dictionary entries by Webster As time went on, Webster changed the spellings in the book to more phonetic ones.
Most of them already existed as alternative spellings.