Noah Webster, fully Noah Webster, Jr.

Webster, fully Noah Webster, Jr.

American Lexicographer, Textbook Pioneer, English Spelling Reformer, Political Writer, Editor and Author

Author Quotes

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.

This general disposition to subject the slight and fleeting influence of human example and opinions, for the controlling authority of divine commands, is among the most gloomy presages of the present times. Without a great change of public taste ? the progress of depravity will be as rapid, as the ultimate loss of morals, of religion, and of civil liberty, is certain. God has provided but one way, by which nations can secure their rights and privileges ? by obedience to his laws. Without this, a nation may be great in population, great in wealth, and great in military strength; but it must be corrupt in morals, degraded in character, and distracted with factions. This is the order of God?s moral government, as firm as his throne, and unchangeable as his purpose; and nations, disregarding this order, are doomed to incessant internal evils, and ultimately to ruin.

Republican government loses half of its value where the moral and social duties are ... negligently practiced. To exterminate our popular vices is a work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens, than any other improvements in our system of education.

Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety. A people can never be deprived of their liberties, while they retain in their own hands, a power sufficient to any other power in the state.

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.

Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of her honor.

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

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

The education of youth should be watched with the most scrupulous attention. [I]t 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.

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 in 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.

The foundation of all free government and all social order must be laid in families and in the discipline of youth. Young persons must not only be furnished with knowledge, but they must be accustomed to subordination and subjected to the authority and influence of good principles. It will avail little that youths are made to understand truth and correct principles, unless they are accustomed to submit to be governed by them.

Where there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community.

The fourteenth of February is a day sacred to St. Valentine! It was a very odd notion, alluded to by Shakespeare, that on this day birds begin to couple; hence, perhaps, arose the custom of sending on this day letters containing professions of love and affection.

Why not include a provision that everybody shall, in good weather, hunt on his own land and catch fish in rivers that are public property and that Congress shall never restrain any inhabitant of America from eating and drinking, at seasonable times, or prevent his lying on his left side, in a long winter's night, or even on his back, when he is fatigued by lying on his right.

The freedom of the press is a valuable privilege; but the abuse of it, in this country, ? is a frightful evil. The licentiousness of the press is a deep stain upon the character of the country; & in addition to the evil of calumniating good men, & giving a wrong direction to public measures, it corrupts the people by rendering them insensible to the value of truth & of reputation. The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it.

The heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.

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.

The lack of [reading anthologies] had led to the use of the Bible as a textbook, a reprehensible practice for two reasons. First, the uniform, antique style prevents the acquisition "of a complete knowledge of words and of the modern manner of writing." Second, "such a common use of the Bible is a kind of prostitution of divine truth to secular purposes." Familiarity breeds disgust, levity, and wickedness, which lead to a profanation of the "awful solemnities of inspiration.

Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God.

The Law of nature is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the Creator and existing prior to any positive precept [human law]... These ... have been established by the Creator and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture, ordinances of heaven.

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.

The opinion that human reason left without the constant control of Divine laws and commands will ... give duration to a popular government is as chimerical [unlikely] as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac... Where will you find any code of laws among civilized men in which the commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft, [and] trespass.

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.

The reasonableness of the command to obey parents is clear to children, even when quite young.

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

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Webster, fully Noah Webster, Jr.
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American Lexicographer, Textbook Pioneer, English Spelling Reformer, Political Writer, Editor and Author