Emerging American Language in 1812

Emerging American Language in 1812

This exhibit highlights aspects of the development of American English at a critical time in its history – a time when many Americans, for the first time, began to think of their language as a language in its own right, and not a mere loan product from England. The War of 1812 forged a new American identity in many respects. By the end of it, Americans felt themselves to be finally completely free of their European colonial masters, and ready to forge a new and unique nation, using its own words.

Overview by Orin Hargraves

Explore the exhibition

Noah Webster

Learn more about Webster’s influence on the American English.

Newspaper Ads

Gain insight on how American English was adapted for everyday use by exploring newspaper ads from the early 19th Century.

Blue Back Speller

Webster’s famous American English grammar and spelling book.

Comic Strip

Brentley Boyd’s educational comic strip illustrates Webster’s life and accomplishments.

Influential People

Leading figures that paved the path towards an American English (1806-1828).

ABCs of Americanisms:
English Words Appearing in the USA

Some words were new additions to English, and others gained new meaning that differed
from their original British English definitions. Slide through the images below to see some examples.