About 60 percent of the country spoke English at the time, while others spoke German, Swedish and Dutch. Even among English speakers, regional dialects were strong.
A teacher after the Revolutionary War, Webster believed that Americans should have their own textbooks rather than rely on English books.
He created a speller that taught students to read, spell and pronounce words and traveled around the country to promote the book.
The language of the new nation was in a state of flux when Webster said “we're going to speak American English.”
Webster's speller made it easier for children to learn English by spelling words more like they sounded.
The French version of words like “centre” became “center” and he dropped the British “u” in words like “colour” and the redundant “k” in “musick” and other words.
This image is an early portrait of Noah Webster circa 1798 provided by Yale University.
The announcement of his first dictionary came in 1800. It was in the back of a Connecticut newspaper just above a farmer's reward for a stray cow. A man named Noah Webster was proposing the first comprehensive “dictionary of the American language.”
His dictionary, and earlier spellers and readers widely used in schools, would help a new nation achieve unity and cultural independence at a time when most were focused on political freedom.
Though he accomplished much more during his life, Webster is best remembered for authoring two of America’s most influential books, the Blue Back Speller and the American Dictionary.
These books helped children grow up to be Americans as opposed to British subjects.