Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is a valuable treasure of the American English language. It’s not simply “another dictionary,” and it certainly isn’t an outdated resource. Nor was it sloppily compiled. In fact, Noah Webster’s journey of compiling the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language had a lot to do with his worldview, character, vision for a free government, and his personality somewhat came into play as well.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is Significant
No two dictionaries are alike and Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is the standard. In particular, it’s a primary source for Biblical Classical Homeschoolers as we do Word Studies to help us master the Biblical worldview of a subject life issues.
Noah Webster’s Vision
His vision for a language to unite the new nation was something that developed over time. He poured twenty-eight years of his life into research and compiling the dictionary.
An American Man of Letters
Noah Webster is counted among other men as a man of letters. In his work American Men of Letters, Horace Elisha Scudder (1838-1902) wrote the following about Noah Webster:
Webster Was Humble
“[B]esides publishing some dissertations on the subject, he issued a new grammar in 1807, based this time on Horne Tooke’s Diversions of Purley, an author with whom Webster would naturally be in sympathy. This grammar never had a firm hold of the public, and was subsequently incorporated into the prefatory matter of his great dictionary, where he says: “My researches into the structure of language had convinced me that some of Lowth’s principles are erroneous and that my own grammar wanted material corrections. In consequence of this conviction, believing it to be immoral to publish what appeared to be false rules and principles, I determined to suppress my grammar, and actually did so.””-American Men of Letters, Horace Elisha Scudder
Webster’s Struggle Regarding Grammarians
“Here we have his frankness of character, his honesty, his force of will, and the impulsiveness with which he took up attractive theories. Perhaps the most comprehensive statement of his ruling principle is that he was governed by usage, but did not sufficiently discriminate between usage by educated and usage by uneducated people; he had, indeed, so violent a prejudice against grammarians in general, and so much respect for popular instinct, that it was a recommendation to him when a phrase was condemned by the grammarians, while in common use by the people. For example he says in a Letter to the Governors, Instructors, and Trustees of the Universities and other Seminaries of Learning in the United States, “According to the grammars, the pronoun you, being originally plural, must always be followed by a plural verb, though referring to a single person. This is not correct, for the moment the word is generally used to denote an individual, it is to be considered as a pronoun in the singular number, the following verb should be regulated by that circumstance and considered as in the singular…. Indeed, in the substantive verb, the word has taken the singular form of the verb, you was, which practice is getting the better of old rules and probably will be established.” But old rules have considerable vitality, and the general opinion still is that if an individual permits himself to be represented by a plural pronoun he must accept all the grammatical consequences. “I will even venture to assert,” he continues in the same letter, “that two thirds of all the corruptions in our language have been introduced by learned grammarians, who, from a species of pedantry acquired in schools, and from a real ignorance of the original principle of the English tongue, have been for ages attempting to correct what they have supposed vulgar errors, but which are in fact established analogies…. In this country it is desirable that inquiries should be free, and opinions unshackled. North America is destined to be the seat of a people more numerous probably than any nation now existing with the same vernacular language, unless one except some Asiatic nations. It would be little honorable to the founders of a great empire to be hurried prematurely into errors and corruptions by the mere force of authority.””-American Men of Letters, Horace Elisha Scudder
Noah Webster’s Journey of Compiling the Dictionary
There’s a history—a timeline of dictionaries by Noah Webster. In addition to sorting out grammar and its everyday, acceptable use, Webster published dictionaries in phases.
- The Compendious Dictionary of the English Language in 1806
- The Common School Dictionary of the English Language in 1807 (compiled for use among the common schools in the United States)
- The American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is essential for the restoration and preservation of a quality American culture and free government for all. The Biblical worldview in every aspect of live and learning is invaluable!
The Biblical Classical Homeschool Experience™ Membership
You’re learning a lot through the articles and the podcast! Take it to the next level by joining the Biblical Classical Homeschool Experience membership where you’ll be mentored and thrive in a like-minded community! This is what one of my students has to say:
“This course and mentorship by Heather has been such a blessing. I’m already seeing a major shift in how I learn, research and disciple my child. I’m still early on in my parenthood/homeschooling journey but I already feel more equipped after going through these lessons. Learning the biblical principles and how to implement them not only in homeschooling, but every aspect of life is so valuable, no matter what state you’re in. Heather does a great job at making it easy to learn by setting a foundation, building on it, and making it all come together at the end.”-Khali, homeschool mom
We look forward to seeing you inside the membership community!
The Principle Approach® is a registered trademark of the Foundation for American Christian Education.