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Chicago Meat

Talk of corruption and reform was all well and good, but to many, the subject seemed rather abstract and remote. It took a novel, The Jungle, written in 1906 by a socialist writer named Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), to bring corruption and reform—quite literally—to the gut level. Sinclair described the plight of one Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who worked in a Chicago meat-packing plant. Through the eyes of this downtrodden and exploited worker, Sinclair described in sickening detail the horrors of modern meat packing. To fatten the bottom line, packers did not hesitate to use decayed meat, tubercular meat, offal, even rat meat in the manufacture of meat products. Comfortable middle-class Americans may or may not care about the exploitation of a blue-collar Lithuanian immigrant, but the idea of big business poisoning them and their families was truly nauseating. As a result of the indignation stirred by The Jungle, Congress enacted the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act a mere six months after the novel was published.


Urban Reform | Complete Idiots Guide to American History | Muckrakers and Progressivism







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