- Larry A. Hickman
Dewey, John (20 October 1859–01 June 1952), philosopher and educator, was born in Burlington, Vermont, the son of Archibald Sprague Dewey, a shopkeeper, and Lucina Artemisia Rich. Dewey’s childhood and adolescence were influenced by his mother’s strict Calvinism, his father’s taste for British literature, and his contact with family friends on the faculty at the University of Vermont. His enrollment at the university in 1875 exposed him to Darwinian evolutionary theory and the speculative and social philosophy taught by Henry A. P. Torrey. Outside the classroom Dewey became an avid reader of progressive periodicals whose contributors espoused versions of evolution, positivism, and agnosticism. Undecided about a profession after his graduation in 1879, he taught high school on an interim basis and with the help of a relative secured a position in Oil City, Pennsylvania. In 1881 he left Oil City to teach in a small school near Burlington so that he could continue to study philosophy with Torrey....