Democracy has been given a mission to the world, and it is
of no uncertain character. I wish to show that the university
is the prophet of this democracy, as well as its priest and
philosopher; that in other words, the university is the
Messiah of the democracy, its to-be-expected deliverer.
WILLIAM RAINEY HARPER,
“THE UNIVERSITY AND DEMOCRACY” (1899)
IF OUR PROPOSITIONS ARE NOT taken literally, John Dewey primarily became Dewey in Chicago and henceforth essentially lived off the intellectual capital he developed at that university and in that city. Obviously we deliberately oversimplify and exaggerate to help make our basic point: Dewey's most important intellectual development took place in Chicago, and he did his most important work there. Though he never lost interest in the theory of communication that excited him so greatly at Michigan, it was not until he went to Chicago that he saw that the best strategy for developing a participatory democratic society was to develop a participatory democratic schooling system. To support that proposition, we begin by noting a tendency of previous scholarship to greatly exaggerate Dewey's interest and work in education before he came to Chicago in 1894 and after he left it for New York and Columbia University in 1904.
If we carefully examine all of Dewey's publications from 1882 to 1894 and do not anachronistically read into his Michigan years the great interest in pedagogy and schools he came to develop at