Noah Webster, according to Bill Bryson:

"Noah Webster (1758-1843) was by all accounts a severe, correct, humorless, religious, temperate man who was not easy to like, even by other severe, religious, temperate, humorless people. A provincial schoolteacher and not-very-successful lawyer from Hartford, he was short, pale, smug, and boastful... Where Samuel Johnson spent his free hours drinking and discoursing in the company of other great men, Webster was a charmless loner who critized almost everyone but was himself not above stealing material from others... He credited himself with coining many words... which in fact had been in the language for centuries..."


Webster and American Language

The first American dictionary was written by Noah Webster in 1828. In addition to being "short, pale, smug, and boastful," Webster was also an American lexicographer, textbook author, Bible translator, and spelling reformer.

At the time America was a relatively new country and Webster's goal was to show that the nation spoke a different dialect from Britain. Webster changed the spelling of many words in his dictionaries in an attempt to make them more phonetic. Many of these changes were initiated unilaterally by Webster, and most of the differences between American English and other English variants evident today originated this way.

Webster also argued for many "simplifications" to the idiomatic spelling of the period. Somewhat ironically, many, although not all, of his simplifications fell into common usage alongside the original versions, resulting in a situation even more confused than before.


Webster's Preface

The following are some "snippets" from Webster's 1828 Preface that illuminate his feelings toward slang, culminating in a "corruption and degradation" tirade:

"In the year 1783, just at the close of the Revolution, I published an elementary book for facilitating the acquisition of our vernacular tongue, and for correcting a vicious pronunctiation, which prevailed extensively among the common people of this country."

"It is not only important, but in a degree necessary, that the people of this country should have an American Dictionary of the English Language; for, although the body of the language is the same as in England, and it is desireable to perpetuate that sameness, yet some differences must exist. Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country can not preserve an identity of ideas, they can not retain an identity of language."

A great number of words in our language require to be defined in a phraseology accommodated to the condition and institutions of the people in these States, and the people of England must look to an American Dictionary for a correct understanding of such terms."

"There are many other considerations of a public nature, which serve to justify this attempt to furnish an American work which shall be a guide to the youth of the United States."

"If the language can be...rescued from the mischievious influence of sciolists and that dabbling spirit of innovation, which is perpetually disturbing its settled usages and filling it with anomalies;--if, in short, our vernacular language can be redeemed from corruptions, and our philology and literature from degradation; it would be a source of great satisfaction to be one among the instruments of promoting these valuable objects. If this object can not be effected, and my wishes and hopes are to be frustrated, my labor will be lost and this work must sink into oblivion."


Wouldn't ya know it? Noah Webster
claimed to have coined only one word...

demoralize: "To corrupt or undermine the morals of; to destroy or lessen the effect of moral principles on; to render corrupt in morals."


Apparently, some still feel today that our language was never "redeemed from corruptions" and that Webster had it right:

"No other dictionary compares with the Webster's 1828 dictionary. The English language has changed again and again and in many instances has become corrupt. "The American Dictionary of the English Language" is based upon God's written word, for Noah Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions... The 1828 dictionary reflects our nation's Christian heritage, and the Christian philosophy for life, government, and education"

http://www.face.net/Webster's_1828.html

Interested in some demoralizing? C'mon--slang!--you know you want to...