Noah Webster published the first edition of his dictionary on this day, April 14, 1828. This 26-year project standardized the spelling of the English language. With 30,000 new definitions, it gave American English its first identity. Proving unprofitable, though, the rights to reprint were purchased after his death by George and Charles Merriam. In the preface, Webster wrote: "To that great and benevolent Being, who, during the preparation of this work ... has borne me and my manuscripts in safety across the Atlantic and given me strength ... to bring the work to a close, I ... present ... my most grateful acknowledgments."