Support the news

Noah Webster On Defining American Culture09:32
Download

Play
This article is more than 8 years old.
Noah Webster is the subject of a new biography by journalist Joshua Kendall. (Creative Commons)
Noah Webster is the subject of a new biography by journalist Joshua Kendall. (Creative Commons)

Here's something that was written in New Haven, Conn. in 1828:

"It is not only important, but in a degree necessary, that the people of this country should have an American Dictionary of the English Language; for although the body of the language is the same as in England, and it is desirable to perpetuate that sameness, yet some differences must exist. Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas, they cannot retain an identity of language."

So wrote Noah Webster in the preface to the very first "Webster's Dictionary." Webster is the subject of a new biography by journalist Joshua Kendall: "The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture."

Today, those who can distinguish Noah from his more famous cousin Daniel probably know him as the author of the country's watershed dictionary. But Joshua Kendall says, in his day Noah Webster was a household name long before his American definitions.

Guest:

  • Joshua Kendall, author, "The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture"

This segment aired on May 19, 2011.

+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news