Noah Webster's Influence On Children

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The first person to write a dictionary of American English and permanently alter the spelling of American English, Noah Webster through his spelling book taught millions of American children to read for the first half-century of the republic and millions more to spell for the following half-century. Born a farmer's son in what is now West Hartford, Connecticut, Webster attended Yale College from 1774 to 1778, during the Revolutionary War. After graduating, he taught at Connecticut district schools before studying for the bar. 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 1783; part two, a grammar, in 1784; part three, a reader (a compilation of essays and poetry for children who could already read), in 1785. 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. In 1787 he revised the Grammatical Institute,…show more content…
He saw as a young man that there was money to be made from a schoolbook and sought protection for his first spelling book even before it was in print and before any state had yet passed laws protecting intellectual property. Webster has become known as the "father of copyright," and indeed he remained active in promoting copyright protection throughout his life. He might with more justice be termed the "father of royalties," as he was one of the first to exact payment from his publishers according to the number of books they printed or that he licensed to

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