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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 14, 2011 8:00am-9:00am EDT

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[inaudible conversations] >> welcome to c-span2's booktv. every weekend we bring you 48 hours of books on history, biographies and public affairs by nonfiction authors. ..
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>> noah webster published the "american dictionary of the english language" in 1828. up next on booktv, jushua kendall, author of "the forgotten founding father" reports on mr. webster's political career, his circle of friends and his tenure as editor of "american minerva," of the first daily newspaper. this is a little under an hour. >> it is my pleasure to welcome you here this evening. we are happy to have this jointly sponsored program by the american historical society. it is a natural fit for this
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evening's program. i am very pleased to introduce crist of the, executive director to introduce our speaker this evening. >> thanks to all of you for coming out tonight. what a pleasure to have joshua kendall with us and to be able to collaborate with the historical society. i would like to thank the greater arts council which has allowed me to do this collaboration tonight. really appreciate their support. i first met joshua kendall when he was researching noah webster and then later on he was doing a similar discussion except i am not -- a totally different language character on roger. of fabulous book. i just got hold of the noah webster book and can't wait to go through it.
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just reading the first chapter or so i can say it is one of the more accessible books i have ever read on noah webster. usually you have to cut through it with a knife. this is a great book he has put together. joshua kendall was born in new york city. he received his b.a. from yale where he studied literature. he also did graduate work at johns hopkins for his excellence in reporting on psychiatry, he has received national journalism awards from the national mental health association, which is now mental health america, and the american psychoanalytic association. he has ample opportunity for his
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love of squash. and associates of yale's hall of college. and give you joshua kendall. [applause] >> thanks so much. it is a pleasure to be year, to be here in the building. noah webster was never in this building but noah webster spoke at the connecticut society back in the day. the last public speech he ever gave in 1840 after the connecticut historical society which i research in this building. it is exciting to be here. my book is called "the forgotten founding father". it really should have an asterisk.
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because noah webster is not forgotten. he is not a forgotten founding father. the point of this book is to tell the rest of the country about just how much noah webster has achieved particularly in bistate. the massachusetts. i do a lot of research, first thing you see in beacon hill is a portrait of daniel webster. that is part of the problem. a lot of americans think that daniel wrote the dictionary particularly in massachusetts. so i want to tell you about webster's incredible shrinking reputation after his death in 1843. when he died he was considered a national treasure. one historians said he was up there in america's trinity of fame along with columbus and washington. in the 1850s, jefferson davis, was a senator from mississippi,
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said we have a unity of language with which no other people possess and we of this opportunity above all to noah webster's yankees selling book. today if noah webster is not confused with daniel he is best known for the dictionary. in his lifetime he was best known for his speller that came out in 1783. that was the harry potter of its day. that book -- america had a population of three million in seventeen 83. in its first year that book sold 5,000 copies. over the next century that book would sell 1 hundred million copies. that book tops five generations of americans how to read including jefferson davis and with his speller and his dictionary which came out half a century later, noah webster gave us american english. that is his singular
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achievement. we are the most ethnically diverse nation on the face of the earth but we all speak the same language. that is american english. if you go to old york, france, italy or spain. every 20 miles people speak a different dialect. but not in america. that is due to noah webster. the boston has confederates dollars. three years after jefferson davis said this he becomes the president of the confederacy and the south is trying to kill the north. but as southerners still want to learn english the noah webster way. they have confederates dollars so the confederacy, they couldn't do without noah webster and they printed spellers change for the present conditions so it was a boat for grade school students and had sample
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sentences. and one was the president's term is four years and that was in the new england version. in a southern version of looked at one from georgia. the president's term was six years. it changed for the present condition. we have this problem with american unity today in 2011 like we had 1861, but webster's singular achievement. his reputation starts to dwindle as the speller goes out of print around 1900. the satirist ambrose bierce said this in 1911--l. eternal resting place of noah webster, dictionarymaker. that has to do with webster's crotchety personality. he alienated a lot of his friends. he had a friend from yale, joel
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barlow, a poet. webster had a religious conversion and after 30 years he told him he never wanted to talk to him again all of a sudden and two years later barlow gets the position in the madison administration and webster ask for favors as if nothing had happened. he could be very crotchety and also alienated historians. there were only six biographies of noah webster and a couple of historians said they wanted to write a biography but they just didn't like him. the challenge for biographer is to capture the complexity of a person and i think his achievement is remarkable. he was a very complicated person with a lot of different parts and that was very exciting for me as a biographer. joe the for talks about the daniel webster problem. daniel webster was a senator in
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the nineteenth century so daniel -- she calls him the i am not daniel problem. some key dates of his life. he was born in west hartford which in 1758 wasn't west hartford yet. it was called the west division. west hartford doesn't become west hartford until after 1800. in the 1770s he have all these forest gump moments related to the founding. he goes to yale and his father today he and his father go on a horse and one of them walks and ride the horse. we don't know who does what. they go to yale and park the worse at the president's house and in his freshman year he has this forest gump moment. in june of 1775 george washington is in town and i write about this in the book. george washington is on route to
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cambridge where he is going to take command of a continental army and webster is part of the young militia that greets him. he is just tangentially connected to history but a decade later he will start to shape history. i am getting some kind of -- computer virus. a decade later he will start to shape history. in 1777 he has another forest gump moment in a summer vacation before his senior year at yale. he and his father and two brothers go to the battle of saratoga where he is for couple of months and as most of you know we didn't win too many battles during the revolution but that was a critical battle and that was a victory. benatar auld had a famous charge
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and that was the battle that got the french on our side. for the rest of his life webster is proud of having been there. in 1783 he writes the speller and i told you that is the nineteenth century's harry potter. he also developed the infrastructure of the modern publishing business. he gives a book for. he goes around from massachusetts to charleston. he also gets a blurb from franklin and tries to get run from washington. the other thing is he is the father of copyright law. his book is starting to sell and he decides he is afraid of piracy. he goes to every single state capital to pass copyright law. everyone of these achievements thaw for someone else would be a
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lifetime achievement but he had so many of them and father of copyright law is just one of these achievements. noah webster at the age of 25 has this best seller and he is very brash and always thinks he knows everything and sometimes he really does. in 1785 he decides what is wrong with america and he was on. the problem is under the articles of confederation the federal government didn't have enough power so he writes this pamphlet called sketchedes of american policy and when noah webster has an idea he does something. he takes it to modern in and takes it to george washington and washington was not a college guy. webster was a yale man. madison was a princeton man. john adams was a harvard man. washington is very impressed by webster. he said that is interesting
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idea. he is a great delegator so he says i will give it to mr. madison if possible. he gives it to madison and webster's pamphlet becomes instrumental in drafting the constitution. in 1787 webster is at the constitutional convention. these forest gump moments are moving into mover and shaker moment. in 1787 at the constitutional convention as soon as washington arrived the first thing he does is knock on webster's dorr. he is not a delegate. he is there as a journalist, so-called convention men realize his talent and right after the convention they ask him to draft a pamphlet in support of the constitution. he does that and historians have compared that pamphlet to the federalist papers and it may have been more influential because it was circulated through the entire country and was ready, was published after
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the convention and the federalist papers were circulated mostly in new york. i have a chapter called courtship at the constitutional convention because webster at the constitutional convention meets the woman who will become his wife, rebecca greeley. rebecca is from a wealthy boston family. her father was william green leaf, sheriff of sussex in july of 1776 and he reads the declaration of independence from the steps of the old state house. he and rebecca have seven children and webster's career path, similar to peter roget's half is he mary's the rich. she is from a very wealthy family. when his daughters are thinking of getting married he says look for the stock. he looked for the stock and married a classy woman. they were very happily married
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with seven children. in 1793, webster develops a strong relationship with washington. in 1793 washington has a problem. the jefferson onions -- there are no political parties until the 79s. now there's a political party run by the jeffersonians and getting involved in another war with england. washington wants to stay neutral so he turns to his right-hand man noah webster jr. and appoint him editor of the american minerva. in those days newspapers were party organized. "american minerva" is new york city's first daily newspaper. he works at it for five years from 1793 to 1798. the new york post which you can still pick up starts because webster and alexander hamilton
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have a fight. hamilton is allied with webster in the 1790s. they have a fight in 1800 that lead to a split in the federalist party and leads to jefferson's elections and he starts this rival newspaper, the new york post, first continuously published daily. it had various other names and stopped around 1920. in 1798, webster has money coming in, selling a lot and he decides to retire and the moves back to newhaven into the arnold house. yes, that is benedict arnold. he gets a good deal because the house is tainted by shame and it is the classiest house in new haven. benedict arnold was a merchant and had a huge house in newhavens so he could see the ships and webster moved in. i looked at the deed for that
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house and it has all the fancy accouterments including a second out house which would translate into so many bathrooms today. he moved into the arnold house and he starts to work on the dictionary. samuel dozen, great british lexicographer worked on it for money. webster went the opposite. webster makes his money from the speller and the seller is the cash cow that allows him to work on the dictionary. the dictionary is what he loves to do more than anything else and he has this obsessive personality and for the next 45 years he is going to work on the dictionary. he has to take on not only samuel johnson who published the first edition of the great english dictionary in 1755 but he has to take on samuel johnson
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jr.. there's only one american dictionary written in 1798 by samuel johnson jr.. no relation. a publicist could come up with a better pen name for dictionarymaker than johnson jr.. he is from connecticut. he writes a dictionary so webster has to take on johnson jr.. it reads like a contemporary thesaurus. it has one word definitions. so webster published a compendium which is his rough draft, his replacement for johnson jr. and he is going to work for the next 20 years on the big dictionary. the interesting thing is americans were not interested in american dictionaries. americans loved samuel johnson. johnson absolutely hated -- willing to love all mankind except for americans.
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he said in 1775 americans love samuel johnson. everyone's war by him. there was little interest. but webster wanted to write the dictionary and he did it and his perseverance is truly admirable. this is webster's character. the challenge of a biographer is to understand the person. noah webster is not the stuff of american mythology. we like to have people like washington. think of how washington handled that scene with webster, delegating brilliantly, watching every decision was so thoughtful. webster wasn't that way. when he becomes 50 he says no one under 45 should be allowed to vote. that doesn't make sense. that is why jill love for said
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he is no joseph stalin. in writing about his annoying personality she has a two page aside about a murderous dictator and said he is no joseph stalin but he wasn't an evil man, he was an unlikable man. the challenge was to understand him. he has obsessive compulsive personality disorder. he loved order, rules and lists. that is not the same as those cd who have trouble functioning. if you have someone with though cd liberal there's a difference between the personality disorder and actual disorder they might not leave the house, they are afraid they left the burner on and they are so anxious. but with a 0 c pd and when anderson webster is through boston's analogy.
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we had a player named manny ramirez who would do ridiculous things. he once walked into the wall in between innings and takes a break and a sports writer said that is just manny being manny. if you think everyone is in a while that comment about the one being allowed to vote until they're 45, that is just noaa being noaa. he becomes a kind of level land you appreciate who he was. for him as opposed to johnson the dictionary was a dream job. if someone with a personality disorder finds an outlet they function beautifully but not so well for their families. they are the type of people at that point out in my psychology today peace, who don't see a psychiatrist but they drive other family members to see a
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psychiatrist. they can be difficult. but he found an outlet and the thing about webster is all of his pain came monuments to american culture and we need to appreciate that. he is a compiler export mayor. he goes on this bookstore--boat for and in each city he does a personal house count. i have a list of will showtour personal house count. i have a list of will show you at the end. he calls the 4600 and that data got folded into the first sentence. yellow fever was a major felt
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crisis. philadelphia in 1793 the population was decimated. 5,000 people died in a couple months. in 1795 when webster was in new york there was another outbreak and he is terrified. he starts to collect data. in his paper he writes the world's first scientific survey. he sends the survey out in the paper and it is an announcement, and he writes what he calls a brief history of epidemic diseases. he finishes that in the arnold house. it is a brief 700 pages. he is obsessive. and the well-known physician at johns hopkins said this is one of the best works on medicine by a layman. basically inaugurates the whole field of public health. that is another side achievement
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which for anyone else would be a lifetime's work. when he goes to new haven he wants to correct--collect data about connecticut and he sends out a survey to inventory the state. webster begins this project, he becomes involved in the connecticut academy of arts and sciences and by that time -- they do a statistical account project. timothy dwight rights in 155 page article where they talk about exactly what is in new haven so it basically rubs off on his connecticut colleagues. his fiscal account project which gives us a wonderful snapshot of dozens of connecticut towns. webster also -- when he is at the arnold house he works on a
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four volume encyclopedia for children. another side project called elements of useful knowledge that covers natural history and geography and includes his pet peeves and so does the dictionary. he doesn't like the french. the jeffersonians are close to the french so he is doing geography and talking about french and the ferocious list of french character. i told you about noah webster married woman named rebecca green leaf. he has a love affair with another rebecca when he is 20. it doesn't work out. she thought her husband was dead but he comes back from the war and he quips 100 years later because he keeps copious diaries and there's nothing about this other rebecca but took him a whole dictionary to express his feelings. in his compiling he is sticking
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in parts of his own life. i want to tell you about how he does the dictionary. in 1806 he does the companion dictionary. i went to manuscript library is up and down the east coast. the complete draft of the dictionary is -- there's no one draft. families in the nineteenth century started selling off pages at yale or all over the place but a small museum in new haven i found the first page and the dictionary starts with a. on november 3rd, 1807, he starts the dictionary and that page looks quite similar to the published page 20 years later. he systematically goes through a
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and b. i make a joke in the book that writing a dictionary by yourself as webster finds out always takes longer than expected. five years or ten years. it took more than 20 years. then he takes a wrong turn. i told you that webster always thinks he knows what is right and many times he does. in the 1780s he was spot on but here is grandiosity get him into trouble. he has a religious conversion like a second great awakening and become a born-again christian and becomes convinced that always languages can be traced back to noah's ark and he is wrong. he spends the next ten years on and etymology. there are a thousand pages buried in the basement of the public library and that is gibberish.
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he was very proud of it. james murray, editor of the offering was dictionary, has tour tremendous respect for webster but he says etymology is word history and word history is a record of fact. unfortunately webster made a lot of speculation. in the book i talk about it in detail but he makes one speculation to back another speculation and i have a sense -- i taught you about how the dictionary for him was therapy. for most of us the task of writing a dictionary would drive us crazy. for him it may have prevented him from going crazy. to have an obsessive, having to something to focus on is a health. the etymology worked for him but as opposed to the dictionary which is a monument to american culture, the etymology gathers dust.
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1812 he moves to everest. there is the war of 1812. webster is making money from the speller but he wants to cut his expenses because the dictionary is taking longer so in his correspondence he says -- back to 1821, he is on to -- he has his 1799 copy of the samuel johnson dictionary. you can see his adaptation. samuel johnson loved shakespeare and is constantly quoting shakespeare to illustrate the meaning of words. webster puts little black marks next to shakespeare. the reason for that is when webster was a college student at yale, drama was considered two steps away from sex.
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students were penalized for attending a play or performing a play and webster really hates shakespeare and rarely quotes shakespeare but in his 1828 dictionary he blames shakespeare for the dirty word. a word like horse on, and he will write shakespeare as if he invented it. 1799, one third of the definitions he takes from johnson and then he is adding a tremendous amount of new material. he read very widely. one thing johnson is missing is enlightened. the sciences the professes--geology exploding at the end of the century and webster read everything and add these scientific terms.
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his 1828 dictionary had 70,000 words as opposed to the 50,000 of the latest edition of johnson. johnson's dictionary had 43,000 and he also uses robert a. is worth who wrote the latin english dictionary and i can show you and example of a page of that dictionary. he is using those as his base and adding based on its own reading. and doing his own definition. he is 3 doing a lot of words in johnson. another side is a major achievement. he founds amherst college. he would make a good policy person on a cable tv news show
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talking about the evils of the administration. in 1820, he wants to establish yale, massachusetts because he is a congregational list and there is a religious war between the congregation and boston. so he says a college is needed to check the progress of errors so there can be progress in areas which are propagated in a cambridge. he doesn't like harvard. he writes a fund-raising letter and becomes president of the board of trustees and the original plan is to steal williams college. williams college is having a lot of financial problems. $3,000 from the endowment, they are in trouble and williams protects himself. it found the first alumni
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association, they end up selling the williams president and a quarter of the students and webster preside over the induction of the president on september 18th, 1821, and he is very proud of this achievement. this is a phrase from his memoir written the third person. think of the education of henry adams, classic memoir, you think it is someone else but henry adams writes the. this is how webster writes about himself. the principal event which took place -- he didn't like his first name and didn't want any children or grandchildren to call him that. resided in and hearst, and established a college in that town. here is his later life. webster is a very savvy businessman.
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remember establishing the infrastructure and publishing business? no one is interested in an american dictionary. he wants to go to europe and move to new haven 18 tour the free. he goes to europe for some research and has a new idea. he is always thinking of having these marketing brainstorms and his new brainstorm is to write the universal dictionary which would be valid in america and england to market it in both places and he wants to set up a conference between oxford, cambridge and him to decide what universal english is going to be. but oxford and cambridge aren't buying. if they had, today we might sell color on both sides of the pond but they are not buying. then he goes back to his original plan which is to write the american dictionary and that comes out 1828.
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webster has one assistant on the dictionary, james gates percival. a lot of these are very eccentric. james gates perceval was more eccentric than webster. he was a yale student who was a medical student. he never practiced. he wants to touch a woman as an adolescent and ran out of the house he was so scared. he was tutoring her. personal understands etymology and fries to correct his boss and realizes that webster doesn't no. he writes a letter to a friend, many absurd things i have removed. he understands the etymology was wrong and the merriam-webster company would figure that out 20 years later. but they don't get along and basically he leaves before the dictionary is published so the dictionary is a 1-man operation.
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the reviews are fantastic but webster really makes his money from the abridged dictionary. that sells very well. just like today the really fat webster's doesn't sell. the collegiate dictionary cells until the digital age. to the war of his family, webster can't be without compiling. so he ones to do another edition and to the horror of his family at the age of 80 he mortgages his house to publish its second edition and keeps going and keeps working on definitions until the day he dies. he is still working. 1844 edition he includes -- this is what he did better than anyone else. he keeps track of the american language. 1844 there -- the last one he put in was published in 1844. he is including words like
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aerodynamics, astronomy and puritanical. harvard has emily dickinson's copy of that 1844 edition and emily dickinson and just to show you the influence, emily dickinson refers to as her sole companion. that tells you as much about dickens and has about the dictionary. but she referred to that dictionary constantly in writing her poetry. i examined the dictionary. it has a green marble for edge and it is worn out. you get the sense that she lived in that dictionary. i want to talk a little bit about what happened to the dictionary after webster's death. he died in 1843. eighteen 47 the merriam-webster company takes over and they start printing smaller editions. i have a piece in the nation that came out about this major revision in 1864 and that is the
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first modern american english dictionary. webster's dictionary is going to have a lot of personal things as i told you. he defines marriage as a covenant between man, woman and god. there is an age-old debate over whether lexicographers should describe the language or prescribe the language. this came to a head in 1961 when the editors of merriam-webster included the word ain't in the dictionary. there was a rebuttal in the new yorker. they were horrified. there was also a cartoon. the secretary at merriam-webster picking up the phone saying the editor ain't in. ten years later the fuehrer died down and today it is considered the norm. webster said this in the 1780s
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quoting cicero. the norm of language is usage. if sarah palin uses repudiate enough, webster would be squeamish when he hears the the first ten times that is used for a few years you got to stick it in the dictionary as a described. webster would describe language but prescribe how to live so his religious beliefs were in the dictionary. the merriam-webster company would take out personal references and say james murray had tremendous respect for webster and call, born define. i looked at the correspondence at yale and there was a crisis in the company because they realized the etymology was off base and they were worried the dictionary would lose its market share if they didn't fix the etymology. they hired a guy from germany to take the etymology out. one point i want to leave you with is this dictionary was
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really the best dictionary of the nineteenth century. webster's dictionary was valid in england and america. the british courts would cite webster and new haven was the world capital of the english lexicography from 1798 when webster moved into the arnold house until 1864. to make that case i talk about an obscure fellow named w. c minor. those of you who read simon winchester's book the professor and the madman may know who this is. w c minor was another lexicographer who was much more trouble than webster. he killed someone. he is closer to percival. they didn't like percival who was in the civil war as a doctor and had posttraumatic stress disorder and kill someone and was locked in an insane asylum
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in britain. he gave james murray tens of thousands of illustrated quotations for the oxford english dictionary and the brits consider him a star. that start of the oecd was an american reject because simon winchester in this book, the brits have written a history of lexicography and my point is the americans were pretty good in the nineteenth century and we should forget it. winchester didn't realize that minor work on webster's 1864 edition. i looked up correspondence and he was the one weak link. everyone said this is a fantastic fiction area. minor was supposed to be doing natural history definition and they were really lousy. so the future star couldn't cut it as an american lexicographer. i want to highlight how impressive that dictionary is and we should be very proud of
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our tradition of american lexicography. i will stop there and take questions. [inaudible] >> when will you appear un c-span? >> i am not sure when it is going to air. [inaudible] >> the q&a program? >> i think it will be a telecast of the elector. >> people in those days new a lot more languages that we know now. how many late. s was noah webster conversant
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with? >> very good question. webster named to the 26 languages but also claimed to know to write a good etymology. i think he knew six very well. he had quit knowledge of the other 20. it has been said he knew 26 languages and i think that is a little bit pr. he could transliterate, some basic terms and 26 languages. the new 26 way whichs back roads and forward. >> i assumed when he was trying to trace etymology --
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>> exactly. >> did he take the ours al because he didn't like the french? why that particular aggressive part? >> he goes back and forth on that and comes out like a stellar composite. i think that is efficiency and simplicity. it has to do with the french but he wanted to give america a distinct flavor. [talking over each other] [inaudible] >> he rejected them because they were inaccurate or out of date? what was wrong with them?
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>> i give some specific examples but webster was much more -- have a much better analytic mind than johnson. he was obsessive and liked to get things exactly right. i give some examples in the book that johnson was vague sometimes and webster would think it through. that is his chief contribution. the precision of the definition. another contribution is johnson is using shakespeare but what webster does in the 1828 dictionary, quoting an ounce and as cheap glory of the nation is its authors and he puts in quotations from washington, madison, we don't have a great playwright like shakespeare we do have a great constitutional theorists and by quoting americans he puts american
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literature on the world stage and shows our riders can stack up against riders from anywhere. that is a big part of the contribution. after the 1828 dictionary appears american culture has arrived. >> a note about the global warming as a. you didn't touch on that. >> webster -- this was a passion he shared with thomas jefferson. he counts houses. he also loves to take the temperature and loves to crunch the numbers and jefferson starts taking the temperature in july of 1776. he is writing the declaration and he buys a thermometer and starts taking the temperature and keeps a temperature log for 50 years. they have a disagreement about global warming. obviously there are no cars then but the issue was deforestation in states like vermont. jefferson said it had a huge
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impact and webster said it didn't and webster's essay has been hailed by people in the field at a major contribution of the weather patterns in the eighteenth century. what is amazing is -- except for the etymology, usually leads to very impressive results that even though it was not science by today's standards but was an important contribution given the constraints of the day. it was a remarkable piece of work. >> his hand writing. did he collaborate with the printing press? >> he did write everything. for the later edition he may have had -- it is hard to see
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exactly because there's no dictionary from a to z but as he was going along most of it in his own hand for the first dictionary, but for the second dictionary, over eighty, other people -- with of the writing. >> you suggested his obsessions and compulsions may have been hard on his family. any particular evidence of that? >> he had one son and six daughters and his son was very bright and studied classics at yale but never graduated. his letters are sad. he was depressed. he worked on the dictionary but because he didn't have a college degree he could never become a full-fledged editor. i have a sense that being noah webster's sun was very difficult. his wife was -- kept an orderly
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house. a perfect fit for him but she did complain but you have a sense she was doing everything she wanted and it must have taken a toll on her even if she doesn't talk about it explicitly. you have a sense that he was very demanding. there are also some letters that are quote in the book between webster and his daughter and webster is on a trip and rather than connecting with other people even though he had a large family and he was a loving person, words were always his best friend. he writes a letter to his daughter about a trip he is taking and tries to give them a geography lesson and has of hard time just relaxing and being himself with other people. he has to have a purpose. there's a sense that his daughters felt comfortable -- uncomfortable around him at times.
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>> we know that noah webster changed the spelling of a number of words like labor and color. there were a lot of other words he changed the spelling of which never were accepted. i would appreciate your commenting on why they were not accepted or what forces present prevent their being accepted. >> he and franklin wanted to change the alphabet at one point. he writes a book in 1790 -- in 1828 dictionary, he wants to spell women wymen. it is an alternative spelling. johnson is the authority. webster says the way i am going to replace johnson is to prove i am the authority that i can go back to anglo-saxon and he said women --wymen is closer to the
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anglo-saxon. he didn't know that much anglo-saxon himself. that wasn't his strong suit because definition and comprehensive english dictionary were strong but brought his life he endorsed a lot of eccentric spellings. some of them are in there as alternatives in 1828. by the time merriam-webster get hold of the dictionary they normalize everything to spelling you recognize today. >> you mentioned that noah webster was obsessive compulsive personality disorder. you don't think he was asked burger? >> in psychiatrist they talk about court morbidity and other similar. just kind of free to ways of looking at it. you could make a case. i never met him in the flesh. diagnosis is always an
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interpretation. i think my interpretation is one reasonable one. aspbergers would be another one. i am trying to capture this complicated person and what motivates him. there is one way of slicing it. the problem have with kasper's --asperger is obsessive compulsive tells you more about what is going on in his head so the more colorful diagnosis. >> next year will be the bicentennial of the beginning of the war of 1812. was webster a typical new englanders in being elected opposed to mr. madison's work? [talking over each other] >> i left this out because in massachusetts liberal in my
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connecticut talk, webster is m. hurst --amherst now you have madison. webster gives a speech in 1814 in which he advocates necessity for a new constitutional convention called the hartford convention which takes place in december of 1814. webster is very contradictory. in the 1780s he is all about unity but in 1814, you have to be born in the state you represent, born in connecticut, the hartford convention, one of the issues they take on its secession from the union. they are so angry and webster says the urgency is are the same as they were and the hartford
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convention fizzled out and the war of 1812 ends the battle of new orleans and there is no need for secession. this of takes up the idea in the hartford convention but until the day he died webster was a firm believer in the hartford convention. that gives you an idea of his mercurial nature and benjamin franklin once said all my life i have been changing my opinion. that characterizes webster. franklin was webster's inspiration. he did many kinds of writing. webster pattern his whole career after franklin. >> why don't we save a little time for someone on one q&a? there are some books out there.
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i am sure they would love to get your autograph. i would like to thank joshua kendall for coming out tonight. let's give him a big round of applause. >> for more information visit the author's website, joshua >> the book is subtitled the man, the myth, american story because i hope by adequately show that the myth of johnny appleseed keeps getting reinvented generation by generation. in the late 1800s he was a symbol of american innocence. time before the civil war ravaged the land. before native americans had been driven onto dismal reservations and western expansion swept away suppose that even this country had been. two decades later after the women's christian temperance laid siege to the cider johnny re-emerged as spokesman for the healthful properties of america's favorite fruit.
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in the 1900s the disney studio turned johnny into a sermon on brotherly love. advertisement in the 1960s praised his financial -- oddly enough since his refinances were often a complete mess. by the 1970s so-called johnny appleseed traipsing around the countryside. the expectation of a new utopia. the phrase johnny appleseed the pot gets use something like 10,000 hits on google. so this constant reinvention continues into our own time and our distinctly modern interest in scaling back, going local and conserving this wonderful creation we have been handed. two centuries before there was a simplicity movement john chapman created a life style that was simplicity itself. it was the consumption that would drive the national economy back to a barter system.
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snuff, the occasional tool, the suite and board books, that was all the earth's resources he seems to have needed. johnny didn't merely live in on the land. he barely touched it even though he walked it constantly. it is a gift to be simple and free. when we find ourselves in the place just write it will be in the valley of love and the like. could there be a better summary of john chapman's life? what a fragile creations deserve is. chapman and appleseed were there too coddling major as if she were a newborn baby. that might be the greatest gift of our own time. john chapman had scripture emerging along. not the bottle but swedenborg. all things in the world exists from the divine origin closed
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with such forms in nature as perfect their use and correspond to higher things. however it came to be, by god's hand or cosmic accident, by whatever label one comes to the challenge, secular green, planetary survival, this global of our needs someone to show us how to love it better and as he always was in life johnny appleseed is waiting out there even now, a razor thin line between present and future, man ed smith, ready to lead the way. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> eleanor roosevelt's years as first lady. the author details mrs. roosevelt's involvement in politics and her transformation of the position of first lady from one that was largely unacknowledged to prominent political actor. ms. beasley takes questions for a little over an hour.


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