Public Program- Joshua C. Kendall

Lectures and Performances
Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 7:00pm to Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 6:45pm

Lithograph of books written by Noah Webster assembled on a desk. At center is a manuscript letter with a bust length portrait of Webster within it

Noah Webster and the Creation of an American Culture, by Joshua C. Kendall

Noah Webster was not only America's greatest lexicographer; he was also a Founding Father who helped define American culture. In 1783, he published the first edition of his legendary spelling book, which would teach five generations of Americans how to read. A leading Federalist and confidant of both George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, he was in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention and wrote an influential essay on behalf of the nation's founding document. He edited New York City's first daily newspaper, served as a state representative in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, and was a founder of Amherst College. The first edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1828, and he continued working on revisions until the day he died. Webster loved compiling and defining words more than just about anything else, and his obsession, which helped a high-strung genius live an amazingly vibrant life, ended up giving America a language of its own. This talk is based on Kendall's new book, The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture.

Joshua C. Kendall is an award-winning freelance journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications including The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, and Business Week. In 2008, he published a biography of Peter Mark Roget, The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus.

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