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.

25 October 1828

The St Katharine Docks open in London.

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In 1805 the London dock was opened at Wapping, to ships from the Mediterranean, North Africa and the near Continental and coastal ports. It was followed in 1828 by the St. Katharine Dock built on the western side of the London Dock and hard up against the Tower of London. In 1864 the two proprietary companies amalgamated to form the London and St. Katharine Docks.

This complex of entrances, cuttings, quays and warehouses with a total area of 125 acres (water area 45 acres) and four miles of quays (26 berths for ships up to 360 ft. long) is to be sold by the owners, the Port of London Authority. The target set is September 30th, 1968, with all warehoused goods cleared by the end of the year.

These docks, known for a century and a-half throughout the Seven Seas, were built for permanence. Their builders knew nothing of ‘limited obsolescence’—putting up premises whose continued usefulness could be reviewed each decade. They built for the ships of the period whose average size was not, by 1844, more than 241 tons. Inexorably this has risen; by 1903 the average size of ocean-going ships was 1,300 tons, by 1950, 2,700 and by 1963, 3,700 tons.

14 April 1828

Noah Webster copyrights the first edition of Webster’s Dictionary.

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Noah Webster was a lexicographer and a language reformer. He is often called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education”. In his lifetime he was also a lawyer, schoolmaster, author, newspaper editor and an outspoken politician. Noah Webster was a very learned and devout man, and his ideas about language in his long introduction to his dictionary make for interesting reading. The frontispiece gives us a wonderful portrait of Webster. He presents as a man of strong will and determination, qualities he would have needed to push his great project to a conclusion.

In 1807 Webster began compiling a fully comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language; it took twenty-eight years to complete. To evaluate the etymology of words, Webster learned twenty-six languages, including Old English, Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

Webster completed his dictionary during his year abroad in 1825 in Paris, France, and at the University of Cambridge. His book contained seventy thousand words, of which twelve thousand had never appeared in a published dictionary before. As a spelling reformer, Webster believed that English spelling rules were unnecessarily complex, so his dictionary introduced American English spellings.

At the age of seventy, Webster published his dictionary in 1828, registering the copyright on April 14. Webster did all this in an effort to standardize the American language.

25 October 1828

The St Katharine Docks are opened in London.

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The ‘Elizabeth’ entering the St Katharine Docks on the opening day in 1828. The docks had over a million square feet of storage area to house items such as tea, rubber, wool, marble, ivory, tallow and turtle shell. Despite this, the docks were never a great financial success and were finally closed in 1968, having long run at a loss. They were sold by the Port of London Authority to the Greater London Council. St Katharine Docks, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, were one of the commercial docks serving London, on the north side of the river Thames just east of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. They were part of the Port of London, in the area now known as the Docklands, and are now a popular housing and leisure complex.