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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Happy Birthday Forever Day

Wouldn’t it be awesome if people celebrated your birthday forever? Well that very thing is happening for Noah Webster. October 16, 2008 marked Noah Webster’s 250th birthday. Can you imagine 250 candles on a humongous cake? I would have to invite the whole neighborhood over to help blow out the candles. It would be fun finding out if we accomplished getting the candles out before the icing melted.

Why do we celebrate Webster’s birthday? What do you do when you don’t know the meaning of a word you see? You probably use a Webster’s Dictionary. According to The Noah Webster House & West Harford Historical Society, Noah Webster wrote two of America’s most influential books, The Blue-Backed Speller (1785) and the American dictionary (I didn’t know about the speller either). Where would we be without a dictionary? Yup! I am thanking him too. Besides who hates a party with food?

So, what was life like for Noah Webster growing up? Noah was born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758 to farming parents. He had two brothers and two sisters. Noah spent his childhood on the farm until he was old enough to go to school. Then like most children born in the era of the 1700s when school was out, he worked on his family’s farm. Sure enough, parents’ gave children chores then too. I wondered where the chore idea came from when I was a child.

Noah did something at sixteen years old that most teens cannot do today. He went to Yale College, now known as Yale University. Upon graduation he wanted to go to law school, but his father could not afford the tuition. So Noah taught school until he could afford to attend law school. He eventually opened a law office and wrote in his spare time. He was 27 years old when his first book, The Blue-Backed Speller was published. Noah was 43 years old when he began writing his dictionary. An American Dictionary of the English Language was completed in 1828, twenty-seven years later. To work on a writing project for 27 years is incredible. Clearly he loved writing. Do you think you would have the patience to keep working for that long? I am so glad he did.

There is so much more to know about Noah Webster. For example, did Noah publish other writings than what are mentioned here? Who prepared Noah for college? How did he come up with all of those words in the dictionary? Where did he spend Thanksgiving?

Another interesting thing about Noah is he worked on copyright legislation. A copyright is defined as an individual right of an author to his original writings or artistic work for a certain amount of years. Noah’s legislative work is still important for writers today. I wonder how long he served in his state legislature. To learn more about Noah Webster and check out a picture of a page of his Blue-Backed Speller plus his childhood home visit The Noah Webster House & West Harford Historical Society. Indeed Noah Webster deserves a Happy Birthday Forever Day!

Would'nt it be great to have a birthday forever day? Write about what your birthday forever celebration would be like. Please share your birthday story by posting it in the comments section.

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