Noah Webster (1758-1843)

Soldier, attorney, educator, public official, and author; left Yale on two occasions to participate in battles in the Revolutionary War; published his Grammatical Institute of the English language – America’s first speller (1783-85); published Dissertations on the English Language (1789); authored The American Dictionary of the English Language (1828); helped found Amherst College.

“The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good and the best corrector of all that is evil in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men.”

“The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it.”

Webster in explaining the dangers of a state religion.

“The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government…and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

Writings to James Madison, October 16, 1829.

“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.”

Wrote in the preface to The American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

“The education of youth should be watched with the most scrupulous attention.  It is much easier to introduce and establish an effectual system…than to correct by penal statutes the ill effects of a bad system.  The education of youth…lays the foundations on which both law and gospel rest for success.”

“The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws…All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects, 1843.

“The cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness…inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric.”

“Moral habits…cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits…Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”

“Religion: Includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of His will to man, in man’s obligation to obey His commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties.”

The definition of religion given in Noah Webster’s Dictionary of 1828.

“Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.”

“Justice and humanity require it – Christianity commands it.  Let every benevolent…pray for the glorious period when the last slave who fights for freedom shall be restored to the possession of that inestimable right.”

In writings, Effect of Slavery on Morals and Industry.

“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God.  The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men if office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.  If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the Divine commands and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”

“When a citizen gives his suffrage [his vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”

In work entitled, Letters to a Young Gentleman.


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