I finally found the essay which describes Noah Webster’s attempt to distinguish American English from British English through orthography. Geoffrey Nunberg writes the following in “The Persistence of English“:
Even at the time of American independence, the linguistic differences between America and Britain were as great as those that separate many languages today, and the differences would have become much more salient if Americans had systematically adopted all of the spelling reforms that Webster had at one time proposed, such as wurd, reezon, tung, iz, and so forth, which would ultimately have left English and American looking superficially no more similar than German and Dutch. (11)
OK, it looks as if adding “z” to make the plural of “wurd” may not have been Webster’s idea and I fabricated my own plural. Ah, well. Works for me.