Tag: Webster

American Character: Noah Webster

The name “Webster” sounds familiar to most people. They think for a minute and then say, “Oh, yeah, he’s the dictionary guy, right?” Right. But he’s more than that. Noah Webster is a prime example of someone who exhibits the character trait of diligence. A native of Connecticut  and descendant of Pilgrim governor William Bradford, Webster was raised in the Congregational church, graduated from Yale, and even was awarded a master’s degree—unusual for the time. In 1783, he got the nation’s… Read more »

Character: That Which Is in Our Hearts

We are all free moral agents made in the image of God. In order for His creation to operate the way He intended, we must reflect His character. If we don’t, everything falls apart [which is evident just by observing the world]. Noah Webster’s dictionary definition of character, distinct from the human aspect, was simply “a mark made by cutting, engraving, stamping, or pressing.” Like a typewriter—you remember those? Put in the paper, press the key, the arm jumps up… Read more »

Fake News Is Not New News

Everyone is now decrying “fake news.” As if it’s a new phenomenon. I’m a historian; I can testify that fake news is nothing new. Three decades ago, while working on my doctorate, I was immersed in fake news—from the 1790s. Newspapers of the era were sponsored by either Federalists or the Democrat-Republicans. The “news” in some of those papers was sometimes pure speculation, often made up just to undermine the political opposition. My subject of study was Noah Webster, who… Read more »

The C. S. Lewis Conference: A Report

I had a wonderful weekend at the C. S. Lewis Foundation’s summer conference held at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Why was it held there? I’ll get to that. As I did last fall, I presented a paper at the Academic Roundtable, a time for deeper thinking as a group of academics listened and discussed what each had to offer. The most interesting part of such a roundtable is getting perspectives from different disciplines. I was the only historian… Read more »

Principles & Integrity: Noah Webster’s Prescription for What Ails Us

My doctoral dissertation was on Noah Webster, widely considered America’s first schoolmaster. His Speller taught generations how to read; his 1828 Dictionary was unique, not only in its being the first produced by an American, but in its Biblical basis. Webster’s illustrations for words included Biblical citations and short homilies on the significance of some key words. His influence in early America was great. I’m highlighting him today because he offered insight to his generation when it came to choosing… Read more »

Noah Webster & the Wisdom of Earlier Ages

I spent a number of years researching Noah Webster, who became the subject of my doctoral dissertation. He’s known primarily for two things: his Speller, which taught Americans to read and write correctly; his dictionary, a monumental effort of about twenty years of his life, and which defined terms in the context of his Biblical worldview. Webster started out his career as a devotee of the Enlightenment, that movement of the eighteenth century that gave far more credit to human… Read more »

Snyderian Truism #6

When I teach history, the emphasis is not on statistics, charts, or graphs, helpful as they all are. Instead, I concentrate on individuals and their impact on events. I believe history is a story, which includes themes, plots, and character development. As we begin to delve into the events of history in class, I reveal to my students another Snyderian Truism that I hope will make them see a significant distinction: Personality and character are not the same: the first… Read more »