William Lyon Mackenzie King

By Robert Macgregor Dawson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
UNIVERSITIES OF CHICAGO AND HARVARD

ALTHOUGH the chief reason which took Mackenzie King to the University of Chicago in the autumn of 1896 was participation in settlement work, his first lodgings were with Dr. William Hill, an instructor in economics, who proved to be both a congenial and a helpful companion. After a brief hesitation, King elected to do the major part of his graduate work in sociology, which lay closer to his chosen field than economics, and he took as the subject for his thesis the International Typographical Union. His first term's programme included courses on tariffs, money, general sociology, the family, and a seminar on social institutions, most of his instruction being under C. R. Henderson in sociology and J. Laurence Laughlin in public finance. To this normal schedule he added conferences with social workers, meetings with labour leaders, and welfare projects of various kinds. In two years' time he could complete the work for the degree of doctor of philosophy.

He settled into his new environment with his usual zeal and confidence in himself. The confidence was not entirely unjustified. Three days after his arrival in Chicago he had so impressed the head of one department that he was promised a fellowship for next year of $520 if he would elect to take that year's work entirely in sociology. At a reception given for all the Fellows he decided that he must be the youngest of the lot, but he told his family that he was not afraid of holding his own with the best of them. "Wherever I go," he wrote naively to Jennie: "I seem to feel at home. . . . I have no doubt that my newspaper work is responsible for that. . . . If I go to a place it seems as though it were part of my business to be there & I take in everything as a matter of course. I meet many people & it seems my

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