Cover image for Noah Webster : the life and times of an American patriot
Noah Webster : the life and times of an American patriot
Unger, Harlow G., 1931-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : John Wiley & Sons, [1998]

Physical Description:
xiii, 386 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PE64.W5 U54 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Noah Webster was a truly remarkable man, shrewd, passionate, learned and energetic, God-fearing and patriotic. Mr. Unger has done a fine job reintroducing him to a new generation of Americans. --Washington Times Noah Webster The Life and Times of an American Patriot ""More than a lexicographer, Webster was a teacher, philosopher, author, essayist, orator, political leader, public official, and crusading editor. Webster's life thrust him into every major event of the early history of our nation, from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812. He touched the lives of the most renowned Americans --and the most obscure. He earned the love and friendship of many, the hatred of some, but the respect of all. Noah Webster helped create far more than an American dictionary; he helped create an American nation."" --from the Prologue In the first major biography of Noah Webster in over sixty years, author Harlow Unger creates an intriguing portrait of the United States as an energetic and confident young country, even when independence was fragile and the future unclear. Harlow Unger brilliantly restores Webster's monumental legacy as a teacher,legislator, philosopher, lawyer, editor, and one of history's most profoundly influential lexicographers. Breathtaking adventure--from the American Revolution to the War of 1812--and masterful scholarship converge in this riveting chronicle of a singularly American intellect.

Author Notes

HARLOW GILES UNGER was a foreign news editor at the New York Herald Tribune and a correspondent for the Times in London. A former professor of English and journalism, he is the author of books on education. Mr. Unger lives in New York City and Paris, France.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Everyone has heard of Webster's seminal American Dictionary, the handwritten, 20-year labor that crowned his lifelong and largely successful attempt to win the US's independence from British English (Webster was convinced that "a common language and national culture was the key to national unity"). But few may be aware of Webster's many other contributions to US educational and linguistic history: he reformed spelling (e.g, replacing the British -our ending with -or) and reading instruction; devised marketing techniques still used by the textbook industry; advocated universal public education; published the first anthology of US literature; obtained the first US copyright, and later the first important copyright legislation. In addition to his work as lexicographer and protolinguist, Webster was a lawyer, abolitionist, public servant, singer, traveling lecturer, newspaper publisher, and political polemicist. An early and articulate supporter of the Revolution, his later Sketches of American Policy predated and, in Unger's view, noticeably influenced The Federalist Papers and the wording of parts of the Constitution itself. Unger discusses all this in his fine biography. Thoroughly researched and documented, yet quite free from any odor of the lamp, the volume provides an overview of the intellectual and political life of the fledgling nation and is highly recommended for all libraries, public and academic. C. B. Dodson; University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Table of Contents

Yankee Peddler
Public Servant
Elder Statesman
Selected Bibliography of Principal Sources