Noah Webster, the father of the National Spelling Bee





...The first national spelling bee was held in 1925, and this year's competition will feature 273 spellers from the U.S. and around the world. Interestingly, English is not even the first language of 21 of those spellers, and Scripps reports that 102 of the contestants speak other languages, from Hebrew to Hindi.

Given this amazing diversity united under one language, the author of America's first dictionary and the originator of uniform spelling in America (which makes the Bee possible!) would be proud. That's Noah Webster, to whom the Bee owes its official dictionary, "Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary."

Webster was a champion of American independence who wanted to do away with the elitism of England's dictionaries, which ignored the speech of common folk. He had a loftier goal as well: "A national language is a band of national union," he wrote, "…for if we do not respect ourselves…other nations will not respect us."...

As one of America's Founding Fathers, Webster accomplished many firsts in U.S. history. Not only was he the new country's first best-selling author, for the "Blue-backed Speller." As Pegi Deitz Shea notes in her 2009 book, "Noah Webster: Weaver of Words," he also "penned pamphlets against slavery…wrote about politics, agriculture, and disease…created the laws for the country's free public education system…and helped form and pass the U.S. Constitution."...



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