CONSTITUTIONAL legal rights FOUNDATION Bill of civil liberties in Action

FALL 2008 (Volume 24, No. 1)


Communism, Capitalism, and also Democracy in China | Upton Sinclair"s The jungle | john Dewey and also the repair of American Democracy

Upton Sinclair"s The Jungle:Muckraking the Meat-Packing Industry

Upton Sinclair composed The tropical to disclose the appalling working conditions in the meat-packing industry. His summary of diseased, rotten, and also contaminated meat shocked the public and led to new federal food safety laws.

You are watching: What does the publication of the jungle tell you about the progressive movement

Before the turn of the 20th century, a significant reform activity had emerged in the joined States. Well-known as progressives, the reformers to be reacting to troubles caused by the rapid expansion of factories and cities. Progressives at very first concentrated on improving the stays of those living in slums and in gaining rid that corruption in government.

By the beginning of the new century, progressives had started to attack vast corporations like Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, and also the armor meat-packing firm for your unjust practices. The progressives revealed exactly how these companies removed competition, set high prices, and also treated workers as "wage slaves."

The progressives differed, however, top top how ideal to control these large businesses. Part progressives want to break up the large corporations through anti-monopoly laws. Others believed state or federal government regulation would be an ext effective. A growing minority said in donate of socialism, the general public ownership of industries. The owners of the large industries dismissed every these proposals: castle demanded the they be left alone to operation their businesses together they saw fit.

Theodore Roosevelt was the president when the steady reformers were gathering strength. Suspect the presidency in 1901 after ~ the assassination of wilhelm McKinley, he remained in the White home until 1909. Roosevelt favored large-scale enterprises. "The coporation, group is below to stay," the declared. However he favored federal government regulation of lock "with early out regard of the general public as a whole."

Roosevelt go not constantly approve of the progressive-minded journalists and other writers that exposed what they saw as this firm injustices. Once David Phillips, a progressive journalist, composed a series of posts that struck U.S. Senators that both politics parties because that serving the interests of huge business rather than the people, president Roosevelt believed Phillips had gone as well far. He referred to him together a man with a "muck-rake."

Even so, Roosevelt had to admit, "There is filth on the floor, and also it should be scraped up with the muck-rake." The hatchet "muckraker" recorded on. It described investigative writers that uncovered the dark next of society.

Few places had much more "filth top top the floor" than the meat- packing houses of Chicago. Upton Sinclair, a mainly unknown fiction writer, ended up being an "accidental muckraker" as soon as he wrote a novel around the meat-packing industry.


By the early on 1900s, four significant meat-packing corporations had bought out the many tiny slaughterhouse providers throughout the unified States. Because they to be so large, the Armour, Swift, Morris, and also National packing companies can dictate prices to livestock ranchers, feed growers, and consumers.

The huge Four meat-packing companies centralized their work in a couple of cities. Largest of every was the meat-packing sector in Chicago. It spread out through acre of stockyards, feeding lots, slaughterhouses, and also meat-processing plants. Together with the nearby housing area whereby the employees lived, this component of Chicago was recognized as Packingtown.

Long prior to Henry Ford adjusted it to vehicle production, meat packers had developed the an initial industrial assembly line. It was much more accurately a "disassembly line," requiring virtually 80 separate work from the death of an pet to processing its meat for sale. "Killing gangs" hosted jobs favor "knockers," "rippers," "leg breakers," and also "gutters." The pet carcasses moved continuously on hooks until processed right into fresh, smoked, salted, pickled, and also canned meats. The organs, bones, fat, and other scraps finished up as lard, soap, and fertilizer. The workers stated that the meat-packing carriers "used everything but the squeal."

Unskilled immigrant men did the backbreaking and often attention work, laboring in dark and unventilated rooms, warm in summer and also unheated in winter. Countless stood every day on floors covered with blood, meat scraps, and also foul water, wielding sledgehammers and knives. Women and also children over 14 worked at meat trimming, sausage making, and canning.

Most employees earned just pennies every hour and worked 10 hours per day, 6 days a week. A few skilled workers, however, make as lot as 50 cent an hour as "pacesetters," who accelerated the assembly heat to maximize production. The usage of pacesetters caused good discontent amongst the workers.

By 1904, most of Chicago"s packing-house workers were current immigrants from Poland, Slovakia, and Lithuania. They crowded right into tenement apartments and rented rooms in Packingtown, alongside the stinking stockyards and also four city dumps.

Real legacy agents sold some immigrants tiny houses ~ above credit, discovering that few would have the ability to keep up with the payments because of job layoffs, pay cuts, or disabling injuries. When an immigrant dropped behind in payments, the mortgage holder would certainly foreclose, repaint, and also sell the house to an additional immigrant family.

Upton Sinclair

Born in Baltimore in 1878, Upton Sinclair come from an old Virginia family. The polite War had wiped out the family"s wealth and also land holdings. Sinclair"s father ended up being a travel liquor salesman and alcoholic. The future author"s mother wanted that to end up being a minister. At period 5, he wrote his very first story. That told about a pig the ate a pin, which finished up in a family"s sausage.

When he was 10, Sinclair"s household moved to new York City wherein he saw school and also college. While attending Columbia University, he started to offer stories to magazines. He devoted in western, adventure, sports, and war-hero fiction because that working-class readers.

Sinclair i graduated from Columbia in 1897, and also three years later on he married Meta Fuller. They had actually one child. Sinclair began to create novels yet had difficulty getting castle published.

As he was struggling to make a living together a writer, he began reading around socialism. He come to believe in the idea that a peaceful transformation in i beg your pardon Americans would certainly vote for the government to take over the ownership of huge businesses. He joined the Socialist Party in 1903, and also a year later he started to write for Appeal to Reason, a socialist magazine.

In 1904, the meat-packer"s union in Chicago walk on strike, demanding far better wages and also working conditions. The large Four companies damaged the strike and the union by pass in strikebreakers, replacements because that those ~ above strike. The brand-new workers kept the assembly lines running while the strikers and their families fell into poverty.

The editor of Appeal come Reason suggested that Sinclair create a novel around the strike. Sinclair, at period 26, went to Chicago in ~ the end of 1904 to study the strike and the problems suffered by the meat-packing workers. That interviewed them, your families, lawyers, doctors, and social workers. That personally observed the appalling problems inside the meat-packing plants.

The Jungle

The Jungle is Sinclair"s fictionalized account that Chicago"s Packingtown. The title shows his view of the brutality he saw in the meat-packing business. The story focused on a young man, Jurgis Rudkis, who had actually recently immigrant to Chicago v a group of relatives and also friends native Lithuania.

Full of hope because that a better life, Jurgis married and also bought a house on credit. He was elated when he gained a task as a "shoveler that guts" at "Durham," a fictitious firm based upon Armour & Co., the leading Chicago meat packer.

Jurgis soon learned exactly how the company accelerated the assembly heat to squeeze more work out of the males for the exact same pay. He discovered the company cheated workers by no paying them anything for working part of an hour.

Jurgis saw guys in the pickling room with skin diseases. Guys who used knives top top the sped-up assembly lines generally lost fingers. Men who hauled 100-pound hunks the meat crippled your backs. Workers with tuberculosis coughed constantly and spit blood ~ above the floor. Right next to where the meat to be processed, workers provided primitive toilets through no soap and also water come clean your hands. In part areas, no commodes existed, and workers had actually to urinate in a corner. Lunchrooms were rare, and also workers ate wherein they worked.

Almost together an afterthought, Sinclair included a chapter on how diseased, rotten, and contaminated meat assets were processed, doctored by chemicals, and also mislabeled because that sale come the public. He created that workers would procedure dead, injured, and also diseased pets after regular hours as soon as no meat examiners were around. He defined how pork fat and beef scraps were canned and labeled together "potted chicken."

Sinclair wrote that meat for canning and sausage was piled ~ above the floor prior to workers carried it turn off in carts holding sawdust, human being spit and urine, rat dung, rat poison, and also even dead rats. His many famous summary of a meat-packing horror involved men who fell into steaming lard vats:

. . . And when they to be fished out, there to be never enough of lock left come be worth exhibiting,--sometimes they would be overlooked for days, it rotates all yet the skeletal of them had gone the end to the world as Durham"s Pure sheet Lard!

Jurgis endured a series of heart-wrenching misfortunes that started when he was hurt on the assembly line. No workers" compensation existed, and also the employer was not responsible for human being injured on the job. Jurgis" life dropped apart, and he lost his wife, son, house, and job.

Then Jurgis met a socialist hotel owner, that hired him together a porter. Jurgis listened come socialist speaker who appeared at the hotel, attended political rallies, and also drew inspiration from socialism. Sinclair used the speeches come express his own views about workers voting because that socialist candidates come take over the government and also end the evils of capitalist greed and "wage slavery."

In the critical scene the the novel, Jurgis attended a celebration of socialist choice victories in Packingtown. Jurgis was excited and once again hopeful. A speaker, probably modeled ~ Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, begged the group to "Organize! Organize! Organize!" carry out this, the speak shouted, and "Chicago will certainly be ours! Chicago will certainly be ours! CHICAGO will certainly BE OURS!"

The public Reaction

The tropical was first published in 1905 as a serial in The Appeal come Reason and then together a book in 1906. Sales rocketed. It to be an international best-seller, published in 17 languages.

Sinclair was dismayed, however, once the publicly reacted with outrage about the filthy and falsely labeling meat however ignored the plight that the workers. Meat sales dropped sharply. "I aimed in ~ the public"s heart," the said, "and through accident ns hit the in the stomach."

Sinclair assumed of himself as a novelist, not as a muckraker that investigated and wrote about economic and also social injustices. Yet The Jungle took on a life that its own as among the good muckraking works of the progressive Era. Sinclair ended up being an "accidental muckraker."

The White residence was bombarded through mail, calling for reform of the meat-packing industry. After reading The Jungle, chairman Roosevelt invited Sinclair come the White residence to comment on it. The president then appointed a distinct commission to investigate Chicago"s slaughterhouses.

The distinct commission approve its report in might 1906. The report confirmed almost all the horrors the Sinclair had actually written about. One day, the commissioners witnessed a slaughtered hog that dropped part way into a worker toilet. Employees took the carcass the end without cleaning it and also put the on a hook with the rather on the assembly line.

The commissioners criticize existing meat-inspection legislations that forced only confirming the healthfulness of animals at the moment of slaughter. The commissioners recommended that inspections take ar at every stage of the processing of meat. They additionally called because that the secretary of agriculture to do rules request the "cleanliness and wholesomeness of animal products."

New federal Food Laws

President Roosevelt called the conditions revealed in the one-of-a-kind commission"s report "revolting." In a letter to Congress, the declared, "A legislation is required which will allow the examiners of the government to inspect and also supervise indigenous the hoof to the deserve to the ready of the meat food product."

Roosevelt overcame meat-packer opposition and pushed v the Meat inspection Act that 1906. The regulation authorized inspectors from the U.S. Room of farming to stop any kind of bad or mislabeled meat from entering interstate and foreign commerce. This legislation greatly increased federal federal government regulation of exclusive enterprise. The meat packers, however, won a supplication in the legislation requiring federal federal government rather than the suppliers to pay because that the inspection.

Sinclair go not choose the law"s regulation approach. True to his socialist convictions, he desired meat-packing plants to be publicly owned and also operated by cities, as was generally the case in Europe.

Passage the the Meat investigate Act opened up the means for congress to provide a long-blocked law to control the revenue of many other foods and also drugs. Because that over 20 years, Harvey W. Wiley, chief chemist at the department of Agriculture, had actually led a "pure food crusade." He and his "Poison Squad" had tested chemicals included to maintain foods and found plenty of were attention to person health. The uproar over The Jungle restored Wiley"s lobbying initiatives in conference for federal food and drug regulation.

Roosevelt signed a regulation regulating foods and drugs on June 30, 1906, the very same day he signed the Meat inspection Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act regulated food additives and prohibited misleading labeling the food and drugs. This regulation led to the development of the federal Food and also Drug administration (FDA).

The 2 1906 laws ended up increasing consumer confidence in the food and drugs lock purchased, i beg your pardon benefitted these businesses. The laws likewise acted together a wedge to increase federal regulation of various other industries, one of the tactics to control huge business pursued by the progressives.

After The Jungle

The jungle made Upton Sinclair rich and also famous. He began a socialist swarm in a 50-room mansion in new Jersey, but the structure burned under after a year. In 1911, his mam ran off with a poet. He divorce her, yet soon he remarried and also moved come California.

During his long life, he wrote an ext than 90 novels. King charcoal was based upon the 1914 massacre that striking miners and also their households in Colorado. Boston was about the highly publicized case of Sacco and also Vancetti, two anarchists tried and executed for bank robbery and murder in the 1920s. His novel Dragon"s Teeth, about Nazi Germany, winner the 1943 Pulitzer Prize. No one of this novels, however, accomplished the success the The Jungle.

Several that Sinclair"s books were made right into movies. In 1914, Hollywood exit a movie variation of The Jungle. Recently, his job-related Oil!, which dealt with California"s oil industry in the 1920s, to be made right into the movie There will certainly Be Blood.

During the good Depression, Sinclair gone into electoral politics. That ran for governor of California together a socialist in 1930 and also as a Democrat in 1934. In the 1934 election, he advocated a routine he referred to as "End poor in California." He wanted the state come buy idle factories and abandoned farms and also lease them come the unemployed. The Republican incumbent governor, open minded Merriam, beat him, however Sinclair still won over 800,000 votes (44 percent).

After the death of his 2nd wife in 1961, Sinclair moved to brand-new Jersey come be with his son. He passed away there in 1968 at age 90.

People still review The Jungle for its realistic photo of conditions in the meat-packing market at the revolve of the 20th century. Like Harriet Beecher Stowe"s Uncle Tom"s Cabin, The Jungle showed the strength of fiction to relocate a nation.

For Discussion and Writing

1. Why did the present inspection device fail come guard the safety and security of meat for human consumption?

2. Why was Upton Sinclair dismayed around the public reaction and legislation that complied with publication of The Jungle?

3. How did The Jungle assist the progressives achieve their goals?

For additional Reading

Mattson, Kevin. Upton Sinclair and also the various other American Century. Hoboken, N. J.: man Wiley & Sons, 2006.

Phelps, Christopher, ed. The tropical by Upton Sinclair. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin"s, 2005.

A C T i V T Y

Working in Packingtown

Upton Sinclair to be disappointed that Congress go not deal with the injustices experienced by employees in Packingtown"s meat-packing industry. Take it on the function of a muckraker and write an editorial the details the injustices to workers and also what Congress must do around them.

See more: Series 70 Colt Mkiv Series 70 Gold Cup National Match Serial Numbers

A l T E R N A T i V E A C T ns V i T Y

A modern-day Muckraker

Look in ~ a modern problem in the community, state, or nation. Investigate it. Create an editorial top top what have to be done around it.