1828 Noah Webster Dictionary


Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language was produced during the years when the American home, church and school were established upon a Biblical and patriotic basis. Webster, descended on his mother's side from Pilgrim Governor, William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation, made important contributions to an American educational system which kept the nation on a Christian Constitutional course for many years. The famous "blue-backed Speller," his "Grammars," and "Reader," all contained Biblical and patriotic themes and Webster spearheaded the flood of educational volumes emphasizing Christian Constitutional values for more than a century.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the 1828 American Dictionary should contain the greatest number of Biblical definitions given in any reference volume. Webster considered "education useless without the Bible" and while he cautioned against too extensive use of the Bible in schools as "tending to irreverence," he reiterated, "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..."

Today when the Biblical basis of education is under systematic attack we need to capitalize upon the availability of our first American Dictionary - the only dictionary in the world to "draw water out of the wells of salvation" - to utilize God's written word as a key to the meaning of words. Historically, it documents the degree to which the Bible was America's basic text book in all fields.

Two Dictionaries. Two Definitions. Which Dictionary is on Your Shelf?

1828 Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language

1981 Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

The act of uniting a man and woman for life...Marriage was instituted by God himself..."Marriage is honorable in all..." Heb. 13.

...man and woman are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family...an intimate or close union

Education comprehends...instruction and discipline intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give them a religious education is indispensable.

The action or process of [developing mentally or morally]

That benevolence, mildness or tenderness which disposes a person...to treat an offender better than he deserves. "The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy." Num.14.

Compassion or forbearance shown esp. to an offender or to one subject to one's power...an act of divine favor or compassion...a fortunate circumstance.

Conformity to fact or reality...We rely on the truth of scriptural prophecies. "Sanctify them through thy truth..."
John 17

Sincerity in action, character, and utterance...the body of real thing... a judgment...that is true or accepted as true.

Attacking the Enemy's Line of Communication

It's homework time.

Mother: "Are you finished yet? Dinner is in half an hour!"
Son: "I still have five words to define from the dictionary."

In the next half hour will this son be getting educated or getting propagandized? It all depends upon which dictionary he is using. Let's look over his shoulder. His first word is "law" and the first definition comes from a modern dictionary, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1980.

From The New Collegiate Dictionary:

LAW: a binding custom or practice of a community; a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority. (This definition continues for two inches of one column of space.)

Does that definition sound okay for the meaning of "law"? Maybe, but if you consider the alternative, absolutely not. Let's look at the dictionary that bases definitions upon the authority of original languages and the Bible - the American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster, published in 1828.

From The American Dictionary of the English Language (1828)

LAW: A rule, particularly an established or permanent rule, prescribed by the supreme power of a state to its subjects, for regulating their actions, particularly their social actions. Laws are imperative or mandatory, commanding what shall be done; prohibitory, restraining from what is to be forborne; or permissive, declaring what may be done without incurring a penalty. The laws which enjoin the duties of piety and morality, are prescribed by God and found in the Scriptures. (This definition continues for twenty-one inches of three columns of space!)

Will it make a difference to this student's understanding of law which definition he spends time studying? How will he learn law from the first definition? What is the implication of "custom" in the first dictionary versus "rule" in the second one? What is the implication of law being defined as "prescribed" or "recognized" rather than "mandatory," "commanding," "prohibitory," or "permissive?" What will be his view of authority and enforcement? What will be his sense of responsibility for law?

Does the second definition establish a different source and authority for law? What philosophical position will be inculcated by the second definition? What theology?

The Two Dictionaries Represent Two Worldviews

The first, the 1980 edition, exemplifies the erosion of vocabulary acted upon by godless philosophies that elevate man's sovereignty and rights above natural law. The second, the 1828 edition, shows the Biblical worldview and vocabulary of the founding generation as recorded by Noah Webster, father of American Christian education. The effect is more profound than a first glance reveals.

C. S. Lewis believed that books written by Christians, with latent Biblical presuppositions, are more effective than are directly apologetic works. Lewis said, "We must attack the enemy's line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects --- with their Christianity latent. You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round. Our faith is not likely to be shaken by any book on Hinduism. But, if whenever we read an elementary book on geology, botany, politics, or astronomy, we found that its implications were Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written in direct defense of materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions in all the other books. In the same way, it is not books on Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian. The first step to the reconversion of a country is books produced by Christians." (God in the Dock, "Christian Apologetics," C. S. Lewis)

If the underlying philosophical suppositions of any little book have that much power, how much more imperative is it to base education upon a big dictionary which identifies Biblical truth in the very vocabulary of the language and that can be used in every subject?

This is the reason, the Webster 1828 is the most important reprint of the twentieth century, the essential tool of education for Christians. Compare definitions of such words as education, marriage, spirit, truth, and many more. Compare a few of these definitions in the chart below, you will be amazed to discover the secularization of our modern English language.

A Standard for American Language Restored

Noah Webster, claimed to have coined only one word --- demoralize, which he defined: "To corrupt or undermine the morals of; to destroy or lessen the effect of moral principles on; to render corrupt in morals."

Today the field of lexicography has been demoralized by those who would make "contemporary usage" and "slang" a standard of reference for students in our schools. Pornographic terminology has come to have educational significance in state schools where Dictionary of American Slang has received academic acceptance.

Christian Constitutional Meaning Restored

Upon Horace Mann rests the blame for removing from the curriculum the study of an American philosophy of government. Opposed to the fundamental conceptions of our American Constitution namely, property, self-government and voluntary union, Horace Mann, "the father of progressive education," removed the spirit of Constitutionalism and allowed only the letter to remain. The Bible, which Noah Webster indicated as "the source of republican government" was closed to its primary function - namely to testify of God's redeeming grace for mankind through Jesus Christ. Actually, it was Horace Mann in the 1840s who removed the Bible and its sacred purpose from the schools, not the United States Supreme Court in the 1960s.

Through the European pilgrimages of Horace Mann and his contemporaries, the alien seeds of foreign ideologies and philosophies of education were implanted in American soil. The independence from European "maxims of government" which Noah Webster had worked so diligently to achieve was subverted during the early years when American education was made the ward of the state. A Federal Catechism, part of The American Spelling Book, had introduced civics into the curriculum in 1794. It gave a short explanation of the principles of the American Constitutional form of government and defined America as a "representative republic." The "defects of democracy" were discussed and students learned distinctly why a "federal representative republic" is "a better form of government." Shortly after schools became organized under state systems, the substitution of democracy for republic was made.

Today the necessity for restoring the clarity and identity of Constitutional meanings is obvious if we are to make substantial progress in rebuilding the foundations upon which this nation was established. Without a standard of reference for America's history and philosophy of government students can not be expected to make the distinctions and discriminations between similar terms used in history texts today.

Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language Now Faithfully Reprinted for Home, Church, and School

The 1828 facsimile reprint of the first American Dictionary, published by F.A.C.E., documents the quality of Biblical education which raised up American statesmen capable of forming our Constitutional Republic. Roots are traced in 26 languages. Examples come from classical literature and the Bible. One Christian scholar described it as the greatest reprint of the twentieth century. It also contains Noah Webster's dissertation, Origin, History, and Connection of the Languages of Western Asia and of Europe, and his Concise Grammar of the English Language, as well as an added biography, Noah Webster, Founding Father of American Scholarship and Education by Rosalie Slater, which describes his significant contributions to a wide variety of fields and records his conversion to Christ. With 2,000 pages and a forest green vellum hardcover, as well as an embossed gold-stamped Paul Revere eagle, it is sure to enlighten and enrich your whole family's understanding of American English and Christian history.

Great Variations in content. The content of old textbooks in most fields during any particular time varied more than is common today. Evidently the chief reason was the absence of the existence of professional societies or organizations, such as the American Historical Society, American mathmatical Society, and so on, which now more or less help determine the content of the textbooks in the respective subject fields. Before the organization of these societies each author could largely determine what his text would include and what omit. So individual whims and interests of the authors greatly determined the nature of the textbooks. In other words, the authors could be more independent.

Long Titles of Textbooks. A large fraction of America's earliest textbooks had very long titles. These titles often involved both the purpose and a description of the book. One marked example of this practice was Noah Webster's Reader. It's full title was: An American Selection of Lessons in Reading and Speaking Calculated to Improve the Minds and Refine the Taste of Youth. And also to Instruct Them in the Geography, History and Politics of the United States. To Which are Prefixed, Rules in Elocution, and Directions for Expressing and Principal Passions of Mind. Deing the Third Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language.

Copyright: Foundation for American Christian Education. Used by permission.

1828 Dictionary (2,000 pgs.), Beautiful Hard Cover (11 X 8 X 3 - 6lbs.):

Price $65.00 + S & H

We invite you to look at the sample pictures that follow.

front cover front cover
title page
page 9
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Noah Webster
letter A
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