14 April 1828

Noah Webster copyrights the first edition of his dictionary.

Noah Webster Jr. October 16, 1758 – May 28, 1843 was an American lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author. He has been called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education”. His blue-backed speller books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read. Webster’s name has become synonymous with “dictionary” in the United States, especially the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828 as An American Dictionary of the English Language.

Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, Webster graduated from Yale College in 1778. He passed the bar examination after studying law under Oliver Ellsworth and others, but was unable to find work as a lawyer. He found some financial success by opening a private school and writing a series of educational books, including the “Blue-Backed Speller.” A strong supporter of the American Revolution and the ratification of the United States Constitution, Webster hoped his educational works would provide an intellectual foundation for American nationalism; however, by 1820 he became a critic of the society he helped create.

In 1793, Alexander Hamilton recruited Webster to move to New York City and become an editor for a Federalist Party newspaper. He became a prolific author, publishing newspaper articles, political essays, and textbooks. He returned to Connecticut in 1798 and served in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Webster founded the Connecticut Society for the Abolition of Slavery in 1791 but later became somewhat disillusioned with the abolitionist movement.

In 1806, Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. The following year, he started working on an expanded and comprehensive dictionary, finally publishing it in 1828. He was very influential in popularizing certain spellings in the United States. He was also influential in establishing the Copyright Act of 1831, the first major statutory revision of U.S. copyright law. While working on a second volume of his dictionary, Webster died in 1843, and the rights to the dictionary were acquired by George and Charles Merriam.

13 April 1997

Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament.

On this day in April 13, 1997, 21-year-old Tiger Woods wins the prestigious Masters Tournament by a record 12 strokes in Augusta, Georgia. It was Woods’ first victory in one of golf’s four major championships–the U.S. Open, the British Open, the PGA Championship, and the Masters–and the greatest performance by a professional golfer in more than a century.

Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, on December 30, 1975. The only child of an African-American father and a Thai mother, Woods was encouraged from infancy by his father for a career in golf. At the age of two, he teed off against comedian Bob Hope on television’s Mike Douglas Show. At five years old, he was featured on the television show That’s Incredible. At age eight, Tiger won his first junior world championship, and in 1991, at age 15, he became the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. He also captured the 1992 and 1993 Junior Amateur titles, and in 1994 accepted a scholarship to attend Stanford University. That year, he came from six holes behind to win the first of his three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships. He was 18 years old and the youngest Amateur champion in history.

In 1995, Tiger played the Masters, his first professional major championship. The Augusta National Golf Club, which runs the Masters, had not let an African-American join its ranks until 1991. Woods finished 41st in his first Masters appearance. In 1996, he won the collegiate title. By this time, he was already attracting considerable media attention and attracting throngs of new fans to the sport. After claiming his third U.S. Amateur title, Woods left college and turned professional in August 1996. Playing as a pro in eight Professional Golfers’ Association events in 1996, he won a title and was named the PGA Tour’s outstanding rookie. In December 1996, he was celebrated by the magazine Sports Illustrated as its “Sportsman of the Year.”

12 April 1983

Harold Washington is elected as the first black mayor of Chicago.

Harold Lee Washington, April 15, 1922 – November 25, 1987 was an American lawyer and politician who was the 51st Mayor of Chicago. Washington became the first African–American to be elected as the city’s mayor in February 1983. He served as mayor from April 29, 1983 until his death on November 25, 1987. Earlier, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1983, representing Illinois’ first district. Washington had previously served in the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives from 1965 until 1976.

Washington was born in Chicago, and raised in the Bronzeville neighborhood. After graduating from Roosevelt University and Northwestern University School of Law, he became involved in local 3rd Ward politics under future Congressman Ralph Metcalfe.

The earliest known ancestor of Harold Lee Washington, Isam/Isham Washington, was born a slave in 1832 in North Carolina. In 1864 he enlisted in the 8th United States Colored Heavy Artillery, Company L, in Paducah, Kentucky. Following his discharge in 1866, he began farming with his wife Rebecca Neal in Ballard County, Kentucky. Among their six children was Isam/Isom McDaniel Washington, who was born in 1875. In 1896, Mack Washington had married Arbella Weeks of Massac County, who had been born in Mississippi in 1878. In 1897, their first son, Roy L. Washington, father of Mayor Washington was born in Ballard County, Kentucky. In 1903, shortly after both families moved to Massac County, Illinois, the elder Washington died. After farming for a time, Mack Washington became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, serving numerous churches in Illinois until the death of his wife in 1952. Reverend I.M.D. Washington died in 1953.

Harold Lee Washington was born on April 15, 1922 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, to Roy and Bertha Washington. While still in high school in Lawrenceville, Illinois, Roy met Bertha from nearby Carrier Mills and the two married in 1916 in Harrisburg, Illinois. Their first son, Roy Jr., was born in Carrier Mills before the family moved to Chicago where Roy enrolled in Kent College of Law. A lawyer, he became one of the first black precinct captains in the city, and a Methodist minister. In 1918, daughter Geneva was born and second son Edward was born in 1920. Bertha left the family, possibly to seek her fortune as a singer, and the couple divorced in 1928. Bertha remarried and had seven more children including Ramon Price, who was an artist and eventually became chief curator of The DuSable Museum of African American History. Harold Washington grew up in Bronzeville, a Chicago neighborhood that was the center of black culture for the entire Midwest in the early and middle 20th century. Edward and Harold stayed with their father while Roy Jr and Geneva were cared by grandparents. After attending St Benedict the Moor Boarding School in Milwaukee from 1928 to 1932, Washington attended DuSable High School, then a newly established racially segregated public high school, and was a member of its first graduating class. In a 1939 citywide track meet, Washington placed first in the 110 meter high hurdles event, and second in the 220 meter low hurdles event. Between his junior and senior year of high school, Washington dropped out, claiming that he no longer felt challenged by the coursework. He worked at a meat-packing plant for a time before his father helped him get a job at the U.S. Treasury branch in the city. There he met Nancy Dorothy Finch, whom he married soon after; Washington was 19 years old and Dorothy was 17 years old. Seven months later, the U.S. was drawn into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Sunday, December 7, 1941.