Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/419

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401
Early Textbooks

has its devotees. In 1806 appeared his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, which in its school or in its unabridged form has ever since been a familiar and popular work of reference.

The only rival to Webster in popularity and fame was Lindley Murray (1745-1826), a Quaker educator of New York and New Jersey. In 1795 he published his English Grammar, in 1797 his English Reader, and in 1804 his Spelling Book. These, somewhat more scholarly than those of Webster, and, as became an author English-born, somewhat less narrowly nationalistic, were also extremely popular, widely used, and greatly influential. In 1784 Jedidiah Morse issued his Geography Made Easy, the first American text on this subject. This was followed in 1789 by American Geography, or a View of the Present Situation of the United States, which was even more distinctly a means of political and nationalistic propaganda. In 1797 he published his Elements of Geography, and in 1814 his Universal Geography. The New and Complete System of Arithmetic by Nicholas Pike, avowedly a patriotic or nationalistic endeavour, came from the press in 1788. In its original form, too bulky for simple school use, or in numerous simpler offspring it dominated American schools for half a century.

There followed a deluge of school texts, as might be expected of an independent people blessed with initiative and groping for a democratic education. Many of these attempted the synthesis of the old and the new. There were those which began geographical studies with the exploration by Moses of the Red Sea; or the study of ichthyology with Jonah. Many still used the old catechetical form. Most included material of religious character, some of it in violently controversial form. Some adopted Biblical phraseology, hoping that the form would make alive, even if the spirit were gone. All were intensely nationalistic.

In the field of higher education, the outstanding change during this period was the development of the professional schools of medicine and law. The creation of a professional literature followed. The old colonial government was superseded by national and state governments based on written constitutions, "a government of law, not of men." Law reports began to appear in 1789, with Kirby s Connecticut Reports,

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