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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 229

Examples Concerning the Same, and an Enquiry into its Uses” and induced a Philadelphia typefounder to cut type for it, but this scheme was too extravagant to be adopted anywhere, or to have any appreciable influence upon spelling. 9
  It was Noah Webster who finally achieved the divorce between English example and American practise. He struck the first blow in his “Grammatical Institute of the English Language,” published at Hartford in 1783. Attached to this work was an appendix bearing the formidable title of “An Essay on the Necessity, Advantages and Practicability of Reforming the Mode of Spelling, and of Rendering the Orthography of Words Correspondent to the Pronunciation,” and during the same year, at Boston, he set forth his ideas a second time in the first edition of his “American Spelling Book.” The influence of this spelling-book was immediate and profound. It took the place in the schools of Dilworth’s “Aby-sel-pha,” the favorite of the generation preceding, and maintained its authority for fully a century. Until Lyman Cobb entered the lists with his “New Spelling Book,” in 1842, its innumerable editions scarcely had any rivalry, and even then it held its own. I have a New York edition, dated 1848, which contains an advertisement stating that the annual sale at that time was more than a million copies, and that more than 30,000,000 copies had been sold since 1783. In the late 40’s the publishers, George F. Cooledge & Bro., devoted the whole capacity of the fastest steam press in the United States to the printing of it. This press turned out 525 copies an hour, or 5,250 a day. It was “constructed expressly for printing Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book [the name had been changed in 1829] at an expense of $5,000.” Down to 1889, 62,000,000 copies of the book had been sold.
  The appearance of Webster’s first dictionary, in 1806, greatly strengthened his influence. The best dictionary available to Americans before this was Johnson’s in its various incarnations, but against Johnson’s stood a good deal of animosity to its compiler, whose implacable hatred of all things American was well known to the citizens of the new republic. John Walker’s dictionary, issued in London in 1791, was also in use, but not extensively. A home-made school