In 1791, Noah Webster was perhaps at a low point financially. Surplus copies of his Dissertations lay on hand and might have to be “sold for wrapping paper.” Webster had become dependent on his rich brother-in-law, James Greenleaf, a fraudster worth some $400 million in today’s dollars. (Soon Greenleaf would be imprisoned and destitute.) The letter displayed here is a desperate plea for “procuring a sum of money.” About this time, Webster made disastrous deals selling unlimited rights in his speller for paltry amounts. He lacked business sense.