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Sinclair, Upton (1878–1968)

Stacy Warner Maddern

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Northern America » United States of America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics bibliography, labor movements, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01361.x


Through some sixty publications Upton Sinclair ran through the gamut of America's institutions, seeking to end the exploitation of man by man and protect the American consumer. In his most famous work, The Jungle (1906), Sinclair exposed the conditions of the meatpacking industry in Chicago. After reading it, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered an investigation, commenting that while he disapproved of the way the book preached socialism he agreed that “radical action must be taken to do away with the efforts of arrogant and selfish greed on the part of the capitalist.” The passing of the Pure Food and Drugs Act (1906) and the Meat Inspection Act (1906) served as evidence of the impact the novel had in gaining public support for reform. It also inspired a movement in investigative journalism that President Roosevelt would coin “muckraking.” Sinclair was born in Virginia in 1878 and grew up during a time of economic unrest. Farmers of the South and West had grown tired of the railroads and other greedy “middle men” who were reaping great profits even as those who produced the goods, like themselves and workers in the towns and cities, were falling into greater debt. This climate helped shape Sinclair's life, drawing him into the socialist movement. However, Sinclair's socialism was an extension of his Americanism. Its leaders were men like Eugene Debs , who echoed the Populists ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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