Noah Webster

Noah Webster began his education under the tutorage of Reverend Nathan Perkins (DD). He began attending Yale in 1774 (Yale was then a seminary). Webster volunteered for service in the Revolutionary Army, and after serving he studied languages and law on his own while simultaneously employed. He was admitted to the bar in 1781. He wrote textbooks for children that concentrated on Christian values, morals, and virtues combined with patriotism. As evidenced in his hand-written notes and letters, he was a close friend, confidant and assistant to the designers of our national construct, George Washington and James Madison.

Webster wrote as a preface to his first edition to the 1828 Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language,

“In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed… No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

He also considered “education [to be] useless without the Bible.” Therefore, “Webster expressed his entire resignation to the will of God and his unshaken trust in the atoning blood of his Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Great American Statesmen and Heroes, Catherine Millard, 1995, p158). Webster wrote,

“To that great and benevolent Being, who, during the preparation of this work, has sustained a feeble constitution amidst obstacles and toils, disappointments, infirmities and depression; who has borne me and my manuscripts in safety across the Atlantic, and given me strength and resolution to bring the work to a close, I would present the tribute of my most grateful acknowledgements” (Preface to his 1828 dictionary)

In his 1828 masterpiece, Webster displayed his complete faith in and dependence upon the Word of God, as many entries are linked to Bible references. Classic examples include definitions of “generation” as:

3. A single succession of natural descent, as the children of the same parents hence an age. Thus we say, the 3rd, the 4th, or the 10th generation. Genesis 15:16

4. The people of the same period or living at the same time. O faithless and perverse generation! Luke 9.

Webster, a master lexicographer, also translated the scriptures. His training in Greek and Hebrew as well as the intense study of the English and French languages naturally lent itself to this effort. In 1833, Webster published the “Common Version translation of the Bible.” In his preface to this translation he stated,

“The Bible is the Chief moral cause of all that is good, and the best corrector of all that is evil, in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity” (Noah Webster, 1833).

Deist? Secularist? Atheist? No. Christian. Most certainly.

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