The "father of American scholarship and education," American lexicographer NOAH WEBSTER (1758-1843) was an author whose astonishingly prolific career included numerous textbooks for elementary education. Prior to his works coming into wide use in the late 18th century, colonial and American students learned from primers imported from England. Webster single-handedly prompted a democratization of American English in how his textbooks taught American children to read, spell, and pronounce words, and in how he "Americanized" spelling, changing some c's to s's, dropping some l's and u's. Without Webster, George Bernard Shaw may never have been able to quip that England and America were two nations separated by a common language.
Webster's basic textbook, first called The First Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language and later The American Spelling Book, became, in 1829, The Elementary Spelling Book. Though the book went through hundreds of editions, this replica edition represents the last, greatest, and arguably the most influential one. It is an extraordinary firsthand look at how American English was shaped.