CONSTITUTIONAL civil liberties FOUNDATION Bill of civil liberties in Action

FALL 2008 (Volume 24, No. 1)


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

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

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

You are watching: What book exposed abuses in the meatpacking industry?

Before the revolve of the 20th century, a major reform motion had arised in the united States. Known as progressives, the reformers to be reacting to troubles caused through the rapid growth of factories and also cities. Progressives at an initial concentrated on enhancing the resides of those living in slums and in getting rid of corruption in government.

By the start of the brand-new century, progressives had actually started to attack large corporations choose Standard Oil, U.S. Steel, and also the armour meat-packing company for your unjust practices. The progressives revealed just how these companies removed competition, set high prices, and treated workers as "wage slaves."

The progressives differed, however, on how best to control these huge businesses. Some progressives wanted to rest up the huge corporations through anti-monopoly laws. Others thought state or federal federal government regulation would be much more effective. A cultivation minority argued in favor of socialism, the public ownership of industries. The owner of the big industries dismissed all these proposals: castle demanded that they it is in left alone to operation their businesses together they observed fit.

Theodore Roosevelt was the president when the steady reformers to be gathering strength. Suspect the presidency in 1901 after the assassination of wilhelm McKinley, he stayed in the White residence until 1909. Roosevelt favored large-scale enterprises. "The copy, group is right here to stay," the declared. Yet he favored federal government regulation of them "with early regard of the public as a whole."

Roosevelt walk not constantly approve that the progressive-minded journalists and also other writers that exposed what they witnessed as corporate injustices. When David Phillips, a gradual journalist, composed a series of articles that attacked U.S. Senators the both political parties because that serving the understand of huge business fairly than the people, chairman Roosevelt thought Phillips had actually gone as well far. He referred to him together a male with a "muck-rake."

Even so, Roosevelt had to admit, "There is filth on the floor, and it have to be scraped up through the muck-rake." The hatchet "muckraker" recorded on. It described investigative writers who uncovered the dark side of society.

Few locations had more "filth ~ above the floor" 보다 the meat- packing houses of Chicago. Upton Sinclair, a mostly unknown fiction writer, came to be an "accidental muckraker" when he composed a novel around the meat-packing industry.


By the at an early stage 1900s, four significant meat-packing corporations had bought the end the many tiny slaughterhouse companies throughout the unified States. Due to the fact that they to be so large, the Armour, Swift, Morris, and also National pack companies could dictate prices to livestock ranchers, feeding growers, and also consumers.

The huge Four meat-packing companies central their operations in a few cities. Biggest of every was the meat-packing industry in Chicago. It spread out through acres of stockyards, feeding lots, slaughterhouses, and meat-processing plants. Together with the surrounding housing area whereby the employees lived, this component of Chicago was recognized as Packingtown.

Long prior to Henry Ford adapted it to auto production, meat packers had occurred the first industrial assembly line. The was more accurately a "disassembly line," requiring virtually 80 separate jobs from the death of an pet to processing its meat for sale. "Killing gangs" organized jobs prefer "knockers," "rippers," "leg breakers," and also "gutters." The animal carcasses relocated continuously top top hooks till processed right into fresh, smoked, salted, pickled, and canned meats. The organs, bones, fat, and other scraps finished up together lard, soap, and fertilizer. The workers stated that the meat-packing companies "used everything but the squeal."

Unskilled immigrant guys did the backbreaking and often dangerous work, laboring in dark and also unventilated rooms, hot in summer and also unheated in winter. Plenty of stood all day ~ above floors extended with blood, meat scraps, and foul water, wielding sledgehammers and also knives. Women and children end 14 worked at meat trimming, sausage making, and canning.

Most employees earned simply pennies per hour and also worked 10 hours per day, six days a week. A couple of skilled workers, however, do as lot as 50 cent an hour as "pacesetters," who sped up the assembly heat to maximize production. The use of pacesetters caused good discontent among the workers.

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

Real heritage agents offered some immigrants tiny houses top top credit, discovering that few would be able to keep up with the payments as result of job layoffs, pay cuts, or disabling injuries. When an immigrant fell 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 came from one old Virginia family. The polite War had actually wiped the end the family"s wealth and also land holdings. Sinclair"s father became a travel liquor salesman and alcoholic. The future author"s mommy wanted the to end up being a minister. At age 5, he wrote his first story. It told around a pig the ate a pin, which ended up in a family"s sausage.

When he to be 10, Sinclair"s family members moved to brand-new York City whereby he went to school and also college. When attending Columbia University, he began to sell stories to magazines. He specialized in western, adventure, sports, and also war-hero fiction for working-class readers.

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

As he was struggling to do a living together a writer, he started reading around socialism. He came to believe in the idea of a peaceful transformation in i m sorry Americans would vote because that the government to take over the ownership of big businesses. He joined the Socialist Party in 1903, and also a year later on he started to create for Appeal to Reason, a socialist magazine.

In 1904, the meat-packer"s union in Chicago go 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 for those ~ above strike. The brand-new workers kept the assembly lines running while the strikers and their families fell into poverty.

The editor that Appeal to Reason said that Sinclair create a novel about the strike. Sinclair, at age 26, visited Chicago at the finish of 1904 to research the strike and also the conditions suffered by the meat-packing workers. He interviewed them, their families, lawyers, doctors, and also social workers. He personally observed the appalling conditions inside the meat-packing plants.

The Jungle

The Jungle is Sinclair"s fictionalized account that Chicago"s Packingtown. The title reflects his watch of the brutality he witnessed in the meat-packing business. The story focused on a young man, Jurgis Rudkis, who had recently immigrant to Chicago with a group of relatives and also friends indigenous Lithuania.

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

Jurgis shortly learned how the company accelerated the assembly heat to squeeze much more work the end of the guys for the same pay. He discovered the agency cheated employees by not paying castle anything for working component of one hour.

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

Almost together an afterthought, Sinclair had a thing on how diseased, rotten, and contaminated meat products were processed, doctored through chemicals, and also mislabeled because that sale come the public. He wrote that workers would process dead, injured, and diseased pets after continuous hours when no meat assessors were around. He explained how pork fat and beef scraps to be canned and labeled together "potted chicken."

Sinclair composed that meat for canning and also 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 most famous description of a meat-packing horror pertained to men who dropped into steaming lard vats:

. . . And also when they to be fished out, there to be never sufficient of them left to be worth exhibiting,--sometimes they would be overlooked because that days, till all but the skeleton of them had actually gone out to the civilization as Durham"s Pure sheet Lard!

Jurgis experienced a collection of heart-wrenching misfortunes that began when that was injured on the assembly line. No workers" compensation existed, and the employee was no responsible for world injured on the job. Jurgis" life dropped apart, and he shed his wife, son, house, and also job.

Then Jurgis met a socialist hotel owner, that hired him as a porter. Jurgis listened to socialist speakers who showed up at the hotel, attended politics rallies, and drew incentive from socialism. Sinclair provided the speeches to express his very own views around workers voting because that socialist candidates come take over the government and also end the malice of capitalist greed and "wage slavery."

In the last scene the the novel, Jurgis to visit a solemn event of socialist election victories in Packingtown. Jurgis was excited and also once again hopeful. A speaker, most likely modeled ~ Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, begged the group to "Organize! Organize! Organize!" carry out this, the speak shouted, and "Chicago will be ours! Chicago will certainly be ours! CHICAGO will certainly BE OURS!"

The public Reaction

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

Sinclair to be dismayed, however, as soon as the public reacted with outrage about the filthy and also falsely labeled meat yet ignored the plight the the workers. Meat sales reduce sharply. "I aimed in ~ the public"s heart," he said, "and by accident ns hit it in the stomach."

Sinclair thought of himself as a novelist, no as a muckraker that investigated and wrote about economic and also social injustices. But The Jungle took on a life that its own as one of the great muckraking functions of the gradual Era. Sinclair ended up being an "accidental muckraker."

The White home was bombarded v mail, calling because that reform the the meat-packing industry. After analysis The Jungle, chairman Roosevelt invited Sinclair come the White house to discuss it. The president then appointed a one-of-a-kind commission to inspection Chicago"s slaughterhouses.

The one-of-a-kind commission authorize its report in may 1906. The report confirmed practically all the horrors the Sinclair had actually written about. One day, the commissioners witnessed a slaughtered hog that fell part means into a worker toilet. Employees took the carcass the end without clean it and put it on a hook through the others on the assembly line.

The commissioners criticized existing meat-inspection laws that compelled only confirming the healthfulness of pets at the moment of slaughter. The commissioners recommended the inspections take ar at every stage of the processing of meat. They additionally called because that the secretary of farming to make rules requiring the "cleanliness and also wholesomeness of animal products."

New commonwealth Food Laws

President Roosevelt dubbed the conditions revealed in the unique commission"s report "revolting." In a letter come Congress, that declared, "A regulation is required which will enable the inspectors of the government to inspect and supervise native the hoof to the have the right to the ready of the meat food product."

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

Sinclair did not prefer the law"s regulation approach. True come his socialist convictions, he preferred meat-packing plants to it is in publicly owned and also operated by cities, together was commonly the situation in Europe.

Passage the the Meat inspection Act opened up the means for congress to provide a long-blocked legislation to manage the sale of many other foods and drugs. For over 20 years, Harvey W. Wiley, chef chemist at the department of Agriculture, had actually led a "pure food crusade." He and also his "Poison Squad" had actually tested chemicals added to preserve foods and also found countless were danger to person health. The uproar over The Jungle revitalized Wiley"s lobbying initiatives in conference for federal food and drug regulation.

Roosevelt signed a legislation regulating foods and also drugs ~ above June 30, 1906, the exact same day that signed the Meat inspection Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act regulation food additives and prohibited misleading labeling of food and drugs. This law led to the development of the commonwealth Food and Drug management (FDA).

The two 1906 laws finished up increasing customer confidence in the food and also drugs castle purchased, i m sorry benefitted this businesses. The laws also acted together a wedge to expand federal regulation of various other industries, among the tactics to control huge business gone after by the progressives.

After The Jungle

The jungle made Upton Sinclair rich and famous. He started a socialist colony in a 50-room mansion in brand-new Jersey, yet the structure burned under after a year. In 1911, his mam ran off v a poet. He divorced her, but soon the remarried and moved come California.

During his long life, that wrote much more than 90 novels. King coal was based on the 1914 massacre of striking miners and their family members in Colorado. Boston was about the extremely publicized case of Sacco and also Vancetti, two anarchists tried and executed for financial institution robbery and murder in the 1920s. His novel Dragon"s Teeth, around Nazi Germany, won the 1943 Pulitzer Prize. Nobody of this novels, however, completed the success of The Jungle.

Several the Sinclair"s books were made into movies. In 1914, Hollywood exit a movie version of The Jungle. Recently, his work-related Oil!, which faced California"s oil industry in the 1920s, was made into the movie There will Be Blood.

During the great Depression, Sinclair gone into electoral politics. He ran for branch of California as a socialist in 1930 and also as a Democrat in 1934. In the 1934 election, he supported a program he called "End poverty in California." He wanted the state come buy idle factories and also abandoned farms and lease them come the unemployed. The Republican incumbent governor, open minded Merriam, defeated him, but Sinclair still won over 800,000 votes (44 percent).

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

People still review The Jungle because that its realistic picture of problems in the meat-packing market at the turn of the 20th century. Favor Harriet Beecher Stowe"s Uncle Tom"s Cabin, The Jungle proved the power of fiction to move a nation.

For Discussion and Writing

1. Why walk the currently inspection device fail to guard the security of meat for human being consumption?

2. Why was Upton Sinclair dismayed around the windy reaction and legislation that followed publication that The Jungle?

3. Just how did The Jungle aid the progressives attain their goals?

For additional Reading

Mattson, Kevin. Upton Sinclair and the 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 the Congress did not address the injustices endured by employees in Packingtown"s meat-packing industry. Take it on the role of a muckraker and write one editorial the details the injustices to workers and what Congress have to do about them.

See more: Does Hair Grow Back If You Pull It Out Hair Grow Back? Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder)

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

A contemporary Muckraker

Look in ~ a modern-day problem in the community, state, or nation. Inspection it. Compose an editorial top top what should be done about it.