In late 1904 a brash young writer arrived in the industrial slums of Chicago’s South Side. “Hello!” he announced, striding into the Transit House Hotel at the Union Stock Yards; “I am Upton Sinclair, and I have come to write the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the labor movement.” As Harriet Beecher Stowe had sparked the nation’s conscience with her depiction of blacks’ lives under chattel slavery, so Sinclair would call the world’s attention to the plight of the “wage slaves of the Beef Trust”‑ Chicago’s immigrant packinghouse workers. For seven weeks the young writer lived among the laborers and their families, care­fully observing their lives at work and in the community. He took his meals at Mary McDowell’s University of Chicago Settlement House and interviewed doctors, bankers, social workers, policemen, and real estate agents, as well as the workers themselves. What Sinclair saw and heard in those weeks left a lasting impression on him and shaped his writing for the rest of his life. “I went about, white faced and thin,” he later recalled, “partly from undernourishment, partly from horror.”1


Sinclair’s efforts resulted in the stunning classic which you are about to read. Critics have attacked the book’s weaknesses in organi­zation and execution and the implausibility of parts of the narrative. So far as the work’s literary quality is concerned, it is difficult to quar­rel with these judgments. Deeply influenced by the works of Dickens, Emile Zola, and American Naturalists like Stephen Crane and Jack London, Sinclair clearly hoped to produce a great work of art. But he was equally determined to use his novel to document the class oppres­sion that he saw destroying his society. Thus the book is neither effec­tive naturalist literature nor objective muckraking journalism, but rather a sometimes clumsy fusion of the two. Yet The Jungle enjoyed enormous popularity and influence in its own day, and this popularity has endured over the years. Within six weeks of its publication in early 1906, the novel had become an international favorite, selling more than 25,000 copies. Eventually The Jungle was translated into seventeen languages and read by millions throughout the world. The book clearly influenced George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, and many other progressive playwrights and novelists.2


For their part, historians often assign The Jungle in American history courses, analyzing it as a classic example of the muckraking literature so often associated with the culture of the Progressive Era. But historians have also been concerned with the book’s immediate political impact: The Jungle is frequently credited with the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, and this part of its reputation is well deserved. Millions of Americans were sickened by Sinclair’s vivid descriptions of the abominably filthy conditions in American meat processing. President Theodore Roosevelt’s reaction to the book, lyrically described by Finley Peter Dunne’s philosopher‑saloon keeper Mr. Dooley, will sound familiar to most of its readers: “Tiddy was toying with a light breakfast an’ idly turnin’ over th’ pages iv th’ new book with both hands. Suddenly he rose fr’m th’ table, an cryin’: ‘I’m pizened,’ began throwin’ sausages out iv th’ window . . . . Since thin thPrisidint, like th’ rest iv us, has become a viggytaryan, an’ th’ diet has so changed his disposition that he is writin’ a book called ‘Supper in Silence,’ . . . . Congress decided to abolish all th’ days iv th’ week except Friday.”3 And this is how most readers have remembered the novel‑rats in one’s breakfast sausage.


The story of meat inspection is, of course, vastly more complicated than this anecdotal history would suggest. Reformers had fought for effective inspection throughout the late nineteenth century, and a pure food and drug bill was pending at about the time of The Jungle’s publication. This bill was stalled in the House, however, and it did not include a provision for meat inspection. Until the novel’s publication, the president had held back, but in the wake of the public furor it roused, Roosevelt acted aggressively, concerned not so much by his own breakfast sausage as by the image of an irresponsible government ignoring a serious threat to the health of its citizens. With public opinion already running heavily against the packers, whom millions of American farmers and consumers viewed as symbols of the trend toward monopoly, the novel galvanized public support behind the idea for pure food and drug and meat inspection legislation. With this support on his side, Roosevelt dispatched government investigators to the Chicago stockyards. Their carefully documented report, for all of its empiricism and objectivity, made for reading as revolting as the novel itself. In June 1906 President Roosevelt signed both the Pure Food and Drug and Meat Inspection acts; the federal government, prodded by Sinclair’s exposé, assumed the responsibility for ensuring sanitary production of food products.’4


The irony of all this, of course, was that Sinclair’s own concern focused far more on people than on meat. For him, the slaughterhouses and the fate of the animals consigned there symbolized a much greater human tragedy being played out in factories and urban slums throughout the world. “One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical,” he wrote, “without beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog‑squeal of the universe.” What outraged Sinclair about the scene in the stockyards, packing plants, and surrounding neighborhoods was not unsanitary production conditions and the threat they posed for America’s consumers, but rather the conditions under which the industry’s workers and their families lived, worked, and died. Sinclair was, of course, an ardent socialist. Indeed, The Jungle was commissioned and first published in serial form in the Appeal to Reason, the largest circulation socialist newspaper of the early twentieth century.5 His writings at the time and since clearly show that he saw his novel as part of the process of working‑class liberation. He sought to win converts, not to meat inspection but to socialism. “I aimed at the public’s heart,” Sinclair observed, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”6


Today most scholars and students still pay surprisingly little attention to the workers whom Sinclair intended to be the focus of his book. Most concentrate on The Jungle’s literary qualities or deficiencies or on the book’s relation to the Meat Inspection Act. Few, if any, treat the book as a document of social history. Consider Sinclair’s novel as he wished us to read it ‑ as a study of immigrant working‑class life under early monopoly capitalism and as a species of politics. How accurate is The Jungle as a reflection of “Packingtown,” the immigrant community closest to Chicago’s Union Stock Yards? The Jungle’s accuracy in its detailed portrayal of working and living conditions in Packingtown enhances the book’s value for the social historian. On the other hand, Sinclair’s rendering of the people of Packingtown is misleading. But even his flawed understanding of the packinghouse workers themselves can tell us a great deal about the author and the socialist movement of which he was a part. Thus, The Jungle has something to say about the politics as well as the social history of the era.


Upton Sinclair’s family roots were planted in wealth among the southern gentility,’ but he spent his formative years in New York City. His great‑great‑grandfather, a veteran of the War of 1812 and a cofounder of Annapolis, was first in a line of aristocratic naval officers, but Sinclair’s father, a sometime salesman and full‑time alcoholic, was often out of work and usually out of money. His mother, from a respectable Baltimore business family, clung to her upper‑middle‑class pretensions, however, and often sent Upton to stay with wealthy relatives. As a result, the boy grew up amidst both splendor and poverty, and this may account for his abiding interest in the relations between the social classes.


Though he did not start school until the age of ten, Upton was a voracious reader. Entering the City College of New York shortly before his fourteenth birthday, he graduated in 1897 at the age of eighteen and immediately entered postgraduate work at Columbia, where he studied philosophy, history, literature, and music. While he was still in his teens, he earned his living writing jokes, puzzles, and adventure stories. By the time he reached the stockyards at the age of twenty‑six in 1904, he had written several novels, none of them very successful, and he was trying to work himself out of a severe depression.


The publication of The Jungle in 1906 represented a dramatic turning point in Sinclair’s life. The book not only helped him to overcome the chronic poverty that had cursed him until then but also gave him the confidence to write steadily. Over the next six decades until his death in 1968, Sinclair continued to fuse politics and literature, producing scores of novels, plays, pamphlets, and essays. He never renounced his commitment to democratic socialism, and many of his works are characterized by what we have come to call “muckraking” ‑ investigations of serious social, economic, or political evils and their effects upon people.


Sinclair’s real genius, clearly displayed in The Jungle, was an unrelenting realism in describing the grittier details of life among common people. Viewed in the context of early twentieth‑century American literary and political progressivism, this passion for detail is hardly surprising. With many of his intellectual contemporaries, Sinclair shared an abiding faith in the power of empirical investigation and blunt exposition of “the facts” to produce reform in a democratic society. Like the progressive journalists who investigated the financial abuses of the era’s giant trusts, or the artists of the “Ash Can School” who consciously chose to highlight the seamier side of urban industrial society in their creations, Sinclair believed that citizens would demand reform, if only they understood the facts.


Sinclair’s Jungle uncovers for us the world of an unskilled immigrant laborer working in a giant mass‑production factory. Some of the novel’s dramatic scenes are straightforward descriptions of the labor process on the killing floors of Durham’s (Armour’s) packing plant. The size, complexity, and logic of the labor process; the sight and smell of mass‑produced death and dismemberment; the transformation of live animals into an impressive array of salable commodities ‑ all of this is conveyed with remarkable accuracy and with an impact usually missing in scholarly treatments. Sinclair’s observation concerning the hog kill at Durham’s‑that “this was pork‑making by machinery, porkmaking by applied mathematics” ‑ echoes contemporary assessments by economists and other professionals regarding the rationalization of the labor process throughout the plants. “It would be difficult to find another industry where division of labor has been so ingeniously and microscopically worked out,” pioneer labor historian John R. Commons observed in 1905. “The animal has been surveyed and laid off like a map.”7 This extreme division of labor not only allowed for the introduction of thousands of unskilled men and women into the industry and for a greatly increased pace, it also helped to break the power of the skilled butcher, who had previously organized the slaughtering work and made many of the decisions himself. By the turn of the century this division of labor and the introduction of a “disassembly line” had made meat packing the most modern industry in the economy, at least so far as the organization of the labor process was concerned. Sinclair appreciated what was happening and brilliantly captured the essence of mass‑production work in his descriptions of Durham’s.8


Moreover, Sinclair understood something many of the industry’s scholars have missed ‑ that while this labor process was a miracle of rationality from a manager’s perspective, those who performed the work often experienced it very differently. Thus Sinclair’s descriptions of this labor process may be read both for the detail they provide about the organization of work in the nation’s first assembly‑line industry and also for the insight they offer into the experience of massproduction work: the alienation produced by an extreme division of labor, the close supervision and often arbitrary discipline exercised by foremen and straw bosses, the furious pace with which much of the work was performed, and, of course, the endless search for a job.9


Even Sinclair’s sensational descriptions of grisly accidents and rampant industrial disease are reflected, more soberly perhaps, in the companies’ own figures on health and safety. While it is impossible to verify Sinclair’s specific cases like the laborer falling into the rendering vat, there is no doubt that many workers died in the plants or that many more sustained serious injuries. In one house alone, Swift and Company, 3,500 injuries were reported for the first six months of 1910, and this number included only those requiring a physician’s care. The safety problems persisted long after the novel’s publication. The director of Armour’s welfare department found that half of the company’s 22,381 workers were injured or became ill at work during 1917, the Chicago plant averaging twenty‑three accidents per day. Each job had its own dangers: the dampness and cold of the pickling room and hide cellar, the sharp blade of the beef boner’s knife, the noxious dust of the wool department and fertilizer plant, the wild charge of a crazed steer on the killing floor. And whatever dangers derived from the work itself were exacerbated by the speed with which it was carried on. The result was frequent idleness due to accidents and disease. In a total of 284 households studied by the U.S. commissioner of labor in 1905, 12 percent of all family heads noted periods of unemployment, averaging about 12.4 weeks, as a result of accidents or illness on the job. At work or at home, a butcher workman or ‑woman faced death and disabling illness by virtue of both occupation and social position.’10


The large companies regularly ushered visitors from around the world through their killing and dressing rooms, but Sinclair reached places in the plants and achieved a perspective beyond the scope of casual observers. His method was ingenious in its simplicity: he simply put on a pair of overalls, picked up a metal lunch pail, and blended in with the crowds of butcher workmen. His Socialist party contacts provided trustworthy guides within the departments of the various plants. When he was still unsure of the veracity of any particular detail, especially regarding sanitary conditions, Sinclair consulted a British comrade, Dr. Adolph Smith, a member of the Social Democratic Federation engaged in his own study of the industry’s effects on public health for the British medical journal Lancet.11


Many of the worst health hazards facing the industry’s workers and their families, however, lay embedded not only in the monumental filth of the yards and the packing plants but also in the ecology of the neighborhoods surrounding them. Pollution of the environment, which causes us so much concern today, was a grim fact of life for Packingtown’s families. On a map, the community was but one link in a solid industrial chain that ran north and south along the branches of the Chicago River, but one became aware of its unique qualities long before stepping down from the streetcar near the great stone gate of the Union Stock Yards. The Yards’ smell ‑ “rancid, sensual and strong”‑permeated the air of the surrounding neighborhoods. Smoke belching from the stacks of the largest plants all but obscured the other dominant structures in the South Side skyline, the steeples of the various ethnic churches.


Living in the shadow of the packing plants often meant not only irregular employment at low wages but also disabling illness and death. For his information on health conditions in Packingtown, Sinclair turned first to Algie Simons, a leading figure in Chicago’s Socialist party. Simons, who had spent several years in the 1890s as director of the Bureau of Charities in the neighborhood “Back of the Yards,” gave Sinclair access to Packingtoum, a pamphlet he had written about living conditions in the community, and he also helped the young author to make valuable connections with physicians, social workers, and other knowledgeable figures in the community. The industry’s effects on the physical environment are reflected in a comparison of Packingtown’s health statistics with those for the neighboring middleclass community of Hyde Park. Although Packingtown’s population was less than twice the size of Hyde Park’s in the years from 1894 to 1900, its deaths from consumption, bronchitis, diptheria, and other contagious diseases ranged from two‑and‑a‑half to five times those for the middle‑class neighborhood. As in so many other urban communities of the era, tuberculosis was the big killer, accounting for more than 30 percent of the 429 adult deaths during 1908 and 1909. The Packingtown ward had the highest tuberculosis rate in the city, and Dr. Caroline Hedger, who studied health conditions in the community and treated its population throughout the early twentieth century, believed that this was probably one of the highest in the country. With unsanitary conditions and high contagious disease rates came infant mortality. With less than three‑and‑a‑half times Hyde Park’s children under six, Packingtown suffered almost five‑and‑a‑half times the number of deaths for those in the same age group. The situation was actually worse by 1909, five years after Sinclair’s visit. One of every three infants died before the age of two, a rate seven‑and‑a‑half times that for the lakefront ward which included Hyde Park.12


The suffering, disease, and death littering the pages of The Jungle were not figments of the author’s imagination, then, but rather part of daily life in Packingtown. Even the horrible death of poor little Antanas, who drowns while playing in a street puddle, is based on information from Simons, who claimed to know of such a case. The fact that Simons’s recollection was disputed is to some degree beside the point. Sinclair’s implication that the death of a young child was an extremely common occurrence in the community is beyond dispute. University of Chicago investigators frequently noted the purchase of miniature caskets and contributions for children’s funeral masses as typical family expenses in this overwhelmingly Catholic community.13 The pain that such deaths must have caused in these tightly knit immigrant families is part of the historical reality we seek to understand through the novel and surely worthy of our consideration.


In part, pollution from a variety of sources caused these dismal health conditions. The neighborhood’s ecology was shaped largely by its position within the city’s economy and social structure. The packers, Hyde Park, and several other respectable South Side communities dumped their garbage in Packingtown, where it was thrown into one of four open dumps dominating the western edge of the neighborhood. Although many residents scavenged in the dumps, children participated in this enterprise most actively. On the north lay a huge freight yard and “Bubbly Creek,” a long, dead arm of the Chicago River’s south branch, which derived its name from bubbles rising to the surface from decaying organic packinghouse refuse. On the east the neigborhood was dominated by the stockyards themselves and the adjacent packing plants, smoke rising from their stacks. This huge industrial complex ran for a full mile along Halsted from 39th Street on the north to 47th Street and separated increasingly Slavic Packingtown from the older Irish neighborhoods of Bridgeport and Canaryville east of the yards. On its southern boundary, a series of railroad tracks cut Packingtown off from a somewhat more respectable working‑class community (see map, p. xxxiii). Although contemporaries usually used the name Packingtown to refer only to the area in and around the Union Stock Yards and the packing plants, Sinclair also applies the term to the nearby residential neighborhoods west and southwest of the yards themselves, a community that eventually became known as “Back of the Yards.” By whatever name, the stockyards district was synonomous throughout the city with filth; smoke, and smell. When Robert Hunter set out to study tenement conditions in Chicago for the City Homes Association in 1901, he intentionally chose not to investigate Packingtown, fearing that extreme conditions in some parts of the neighborhood would prejudice his sample of the city’s slums.14


The quality of Packingtown’s houses and the congestion within them also lowered the community’s health standards. Certainly some families maintained decent homes in spite of the dismal surroundings. Housing investigators noted considerable living space within and around homes in Packingtown because lots and the size of rooms in the houses were often much larger than in other poor neighborhoods. But these observers also found that the community had an extremely large number of boarders, which contributed to congestion within the homes, and that the houses themselves were often in poor condition. Over 90 percent of Packingtown’s buildings were all‑frame in construction, and, like much of Chicago’s working‑class housing, they had been built before the housing reforms of 1902. Some were deteriorating by the time Sinclair arrived in the community and they were vulnerable to fire. By 1918 the packers’ own attorney concluded that the only solution to slum housing was “absolute destruction of the district. You should tear down the district, burn all the houses.”15


Amazing as they may seem, then, Sinclair’s descriptions of the physical conditions of daily life in the neighborhood are firmly grounded. The worst that he can be accused of, so far as details are concerned, is the common literary strategy of collapsing the real experiences in the lives of many people into the fictional experiences of one character. While there may never have been a single Lithuanian laborer who suffered all the calamities that Jurgis faces in The Jungle, the troubles themselves occurred on a regular basis in Packingtown. But if Sinclair provided some very valuable details of life in a particular type of immigrant working‑class community in the early twentieth century, he also, in his pursuit of realistic detail in the disintegration of the Rudkus family, distorted the character of the very people whom he sought to redeem ‑ the immigrant workers’ and their families.


     As literary critics and other observers have often noted, the vast size and expansive depravity of the factory and big city slum all but obliterate the people in the novel.16 Not unlike the University of Chi­cago’s early sociologists, who found in Packingtown a handy urban laboratory in which to observe what they called “social disorganiza­tion,”17 Sinclair saw the urban‑industrial environment constantly dominating its inhabitants, the immigrant workers of the city’s South Side. The social and cultural lives of the immigrants disintegrate un­der the pressures of daily life in an urban slum. Animal and mechani­cal metaphors abound. The characters are “like rats in a trap” or “cogs in the great packing machine.” Pressing to the limit his theme of in­ animate machinery assimilating the people around it, Sinclair even has some laborers fall directly into the vats or machinery and emerge as processed packinghouse commodities. Through such images, Sinclair drains ‑ his characters of their human agency. Most succumb physically through horrible deaths; all are degraded morally and reduced to living by their animal instinct.’ 18


To be fair, it is in part this relentless onslaught of massive technology on human nature that gives the novel its moral force, but it also prevents Sinclair from developing what may be the most compelling aspect of Packingtown’s story‑the immigrants’ own efforts to build stable communities in the midst of this “jungle.” Undoubtedly a brutal place in many respects, Packingtown was also a viable community, or rather a complex of communities, created by the very people with whom Sinclair populates his novel. At least two types of workers’ self‑activity appear to have remained very much alive in the midst of the material and psychic carnage that Sinclair so vividly describes. By far the most pervasive and consistent of these was the creation of ethno‑religious cultures by Packingtown’s various nationalities. These were defensive cultures in the sense that they insulated the immigrant workers from some of the worst aspects of life in an urban slum and helped to sustain them materially and psychologically in their daily travail. Labor organization and protest, on the other hand, threatened to shake the very foundations of the packers’ power‑their control over the production process, the labor market, and the terms of employment in the stockyards. The appearance and the character of union organization in the early twentieth century call our attention to the dimension of human agency in the Packingtown story, but its ultimate destruction reminds us of the packers’ enduring power in the marketplace.


Much of The Jungle is concerned with demonstrating this tremendous power and its effects on the lives of the immigrant workers and their families, but these corporations lacked the sort of pervasive control over workers’ lives that employers sometimes achieved in company towns. In the ethnic enclaves of America’s large industrial cities, immigrants created their own distinctive cultures and lived much of their lives beyond the companies’ reach. By the early twentieth century, Chicago’s South Side was a patchwork quilt of vibrant ethnic neighborhoods that constituted alternative sources for ideas and values beyond the ideological influence of employers and the dominant middle‑class culture. Indeed, ethnic consciousness and culture seem to have been growing during these years, especially among Eastern Europeans.19


The novel opens with Jurgis and Ona’s wedding celebration, a touching evocation of this ethnic culture. The obvious determination shown here to sustain old‑world values and customs in the new urban industrial environment might have been developed as a major theme, but Sinclair uses the scene largely to establish a basic humanity, which the system degrades and destroys in the remainder of the novel. Given only Sinclair’s depiction of Packingtown, one might conclude that ethnic culture disintegrated rather quickly before the relentless force of industrial capitalism and the evils of the big city.


Instead, ethnic culture thrived amidst the forbidding environment of Packingtown. Soon after arrival in the community, each ethnic group established its own parish and often its own school, where instruction came in the vernacular rather than in English. Sinclair’s theme of moral degeneracy contrasts sharply with Packingtown’s self image of a devoutly religious community. Recently Evelyn Ostrowski, who grew up in the neighborhood, recalled it as “a community which was highly religious with a great reliance on the church.” Indeed, for most Slavic immigrants, the parish was the center of their social and cultural lives as well as a place to worship. In later years the celebrated community activist Saul Alinsky noted, “It is the Catholic church which serves as the medium through which these people express their hopes, desires and aspirations.” The number and quality of church buildings in the neighborhoods, the vibrancy of parish organizational life, the high enrollment at parochial schools, and the extreme sacrifices required to build these institutions on laborers’ wages all suggest a more cohesive community than Sinclair’s novel would indicate. Fraternal, economic, and political groups also organized along ethnic lines. Chicago’s Bohemians, for example, had created over thirty savings‑and‑loans, 259 benefit societies, thirty‑five gymnastics clubs, eighteen singing societies, five bicycling clubs, and four drama groups by the turn of the century. Each of Packingtown’s other ethnic enclaves‑Poles, Lithuanians, Slovaks, Germans‑hosted a comparable array of such organizations.20


Next to its numerous churches, Packingtown’s hundreds of saloons may have been the most important social institutions in the community, at least for male packinghouse workers. In Sinclair’s description of the community they contribute significantly to the moral and financial degeneration of Jurgis Rudkus and his family; in reality they served a number of vital functions. Since the packers provided no cafeteria facilities for their employees, many of the workers chose to eat in nearby taverns rather than amidst the filth of the killing floors and packing rooms. Saloons closest to the yards tended to attract workers from particular plants, while most of those on the corners of residential neighborhood blocks tended to be dominated by one or another ethnic group. Workplace or “daytime” saloons became focal points for union activity and often provided meeting facilities for these and other organizations. Saloon keepers cashed checks, held money for patrons, and might even advance a loan in extreme cases. Perhaps the saloon’s most important function, however, was simply that of refuge‑from the workplace world that the packers controlled and from ‑tie congested wooden tenements that lined the streets near the yards. As such, saloons were part of the ethnic subcultures that workers themselves created throughout the community but that have little presence in Sinclair’s novel. Such subcultures sustained the Eastern Europeans, materially and emotional. Many of these people suffered bitterly but few of them in the sort of isolation and alienation that characterizes Jurgis Rudkus’s ordeal in The Jungle.21


While such ethnic cultures did not confront the power and authority of the giant meat‑packing corporations in any direct way, a fascinating union movement that emerged in the stockyards during the early years of this century certainly did. Building on nineteenth‑century traditions of labor solidarity among the skilled Irish and German butchers, the new Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America began its organizing efforts in 1900 with the “butcher aristocracy.” But organizers soon realized that any effective organization would have to cross the barriers of skill, gender, race, and ethnicity to embrace every worker in the stockyards. “Today it is impossible,” the union’s journal concluded, “to draw the line where the skilled man leaves off and the unskilled man begins.”22 Young, unskilled women, recently arrived Slavic immigrants, and blacks not only poured into the union but also helped to develop strong shop‑floor organizations throughout the various houses. Between the beginning of 1902 and the summer of 1904, these house committees, through the strikes they led, significantly improved many of the worst working conditions.


But the union did more than improve conditions. It also provided the immigrants with a way of coming to terms with their situation and dealing with it on a daily basis. This process had as much to do with culture and ideology as it did with economics. A young Lithuanian laborer tried to describe what this movement meant to him.


It has given me more time to learn to read and speak and enjoy life like an American .... With more time and more money I live much better and I am very happy. So is Alexandria .... We have four nice rooms, which she keeps very clean, and she has flowers growing in boxes in the two front windows. We do not go much, to church, because the church seems too slow. But we belong to a Lithuanian society which gives two picnics in the summer and two big balls in winter, and we have a fine time .... The union is doing another good thing. It is combining all the nationalities. The night I joined the Cattle Butchers’ Union I was led into the room by a negro member. With me were Bohemians, Germans, and Poles, and Mike Donnelly, the President, is an Irishman .... Since then I have gone there every two weeks and I help the movement by being an interpreter for the other Lithuanians who come in. That is why I have learned to speak and write good English .... But the best thing the union does is to make me feel more independent. 23


Thus the union not only succeeded in raising the living standards in Packingtown but also provided the context for immigrant acculturation, a kind of Americanization from the bottom up. While clinging to their own cultures, the Eastern Europeans found a common ground with the various other ethnic groups represented in the industry, and in the process they gained a greater degree of control over their own lives at work and in the community.


During the summer of 1904 the limits of the workers’ power and the extent of the packers’ were both clearly demonstrated in a long and bitter strike that destroyed union organization throughout the industry. In fact, this strike, launched in the face of heavy unemployment, first drew Sinclair’s attention to Packingtown; the Amalgamated was in decline by the time the young writer arrived. Yet the immigrants’ behavior during the strike itself also dispels Sinclair’s image of them as hopeless and degraded creatures. Not only thousands of wage earners from various ethnic backgrounds but also priests, ministers, businessmen, and other leaders from Packingtown’s ethnic institutions rose in support of the strike. Although many Chicago strikes during this era were characterized by widespread violence on both sides of the picket line, the immigrant packinghouse workers were notably peaceful, disciplined, and loyal to the union. What most impressed John R. Commons, who viewed the strike firsthand, was the remarkable solidarity of the strikers across racial and ethnic lines. “Perhaps the fact of greatest social significance,” Commons observed, “is that the strike of 1904 was not merely a strike of skilled labor for the unskilled, but was a strike of Americanized Irish, Germans, and Bohem_ian_s_in be a of Slovaks, Poles, Lithuanians, and Negroes.”24 During the First World War when union organization emerged once again, it was strongest among the Slavic workers whom Sinclair portrays in this book.25


How did the observant young author miss all of this; The answer lies in Sinclair’s own political perspective, characteristic in many ways of a whole generation of radical intellectuals during the early twentieth century. His Socialist party was the, party of middle‑class professional reformers, radical intellectuals, populist farmers, and Christian socialists‑legitimate heirs of America’s nineteenth‑century radical reform tradition, the most recent generation of rebels against industrial capitalism’s debasement of traditional American values. But this group was usually not in intimate contact with the immigrant workers Sinclair portrays, and some of them carried on the traditional prejudices of native‑born nineteenth‑century reformers. The nativism that creeps into some of Sinclair’s treatments of the immigrant workers and the clearly racist tone of his descriptions of the black strikebreakers were not unique in the early twentieth‑century socialist movement.26 Sinclair drew the portrait of the party that appears in the novel from his own experiences. When The Jungle’s hero, Lithuanian laborer Jurgis Rudkus, embraces socialism, he experiences something that looks suspiciously like a religious conversion. His political education comes largely at the hands of middle‑class activists, the sort of socialists with whom Sinclair would be most familiar‑a rich hotel owner and a group of intellectuals and reformers whom Sinclair modeled on Jack London, Gaylord Wilshire, and others of his contempo­rary associates. The a sudden, almost spontaneous conversion of Rud‑ to socialism  is, in fact, an accident. Hungry and cold, he wanders into a hall where, entranced by the charismatic quality of a socialist orator, he is quickly hooked.


The impact of the orator may be exaggerated, but it is not quite as far‑fetched as one might suspect. The central figure in the Socialist party was Eugene V Debs, a deeply moving speaker, reputedly capable of evoking just such a response among immigrant workers, even some who could not understand his English. Debs’ biographer Nick Salvatore describes the scene at a Polish Socialist Federation meeting in Chicago: “Debs held the large crowd captive, moving them to tears and wild applause during the course of his two‑hour speech. Perplexed, as the majority of the audience understood little or no English, Debs asked a bilingual comrade to inquire how this was possible. One Polish Socialist responded quite simply: ‘Debs talks to us with his hands and out of his heart, and we all understood everything he said.’ 27


Still, Jurgis’s religious‑style conversion has troubled literary critics and generations of readers for good reason. The hero’s instantaneous transformation from degraded, defeated hobo and petty criminal to dedicated, disciplined socialist militant comes off as either a political harangue or, worse, a weak, transparent attempt to resolve all the crisis and tension of an excessively long novel in the last few pages.28


Sinclair himself went through a conversion not unlike Jurgis’s. By his own admission, he was totally‑ignorant of socialism until the age of twenty‑two and assumed that only he recognized the inequities of the American social and economic system. At that point, however, another young writer handed him some pamphlets and a copy of Wilshire’s Magazine. The result was instant political revelation. “It was like the falling down of prison walls about my mind; the amazing discovery, after all those years, that I did not have to carry the whole burden of humanity’s future upon my two shoulders .... The principle fact that socialists had to teach me was that they themselves existed.29


His teachers comprised a rather peculiar lot. Gaylord Wilshire, having made millions in the archtypical capitalist pursuit of billboard advertising, suddenly announced his conversion to socialism and then went to work on Sinclair. George Herron, a professor at Grinnell College, occupied a chair that had been endowed by yet another millionaire socialist. Herron bankrolled Sinclair’s first major novel, Manassas, and also opened the young writer’s eyes to socialism.30


But all socialists were not millionaires and intellectuals, and most immigrants found their way to the movement by a very different route. Ironically, Jurgis’s discovery of socialism need not have been as peculiar as Sinclair’s. Another Socialist party‑in effect, the party of the unskilled immigrant laborer or machine tender, from whom Sinclair modeled Jurgis ‑ was very much a part of Packingtown’s world. Although the Socialist party did not formally establish foreign language federations until the eve of World War I, major ethnic groups in Chicago and other large industrial cities had created their own separate ethnic socialist organizations during the early years of this century. The Lithuanian Socialist Federation, for example, which would have been a much more logical source for Jurgis’s ideas, was quite active in the stockyards area. Poles, Bohemians, Italians, and other nationalities organized similar groups. (Sinclair may have had this wing of the party in mind when he developed the character of the tailor Ostrinski.) Although such groups were usually minorities in their various ethnic communities, they remained active throughout the early twentieth century and scored some notable successes.


Even the expansive projections of Socialist triumph in the last few pages of the novel appear less fantastic viewed from the perspective of the early, rather than the late, twentieth century. At the national level, both the party’s share of the electoral vote and its membership continued to rise dramatically through World War I. Starting with a membership of less than 10,000 at its foundation in 1901, the party had doubled in size by 1904 and doubled once again by 1908. By 1912 almost 118,000 people had joined, and Eugene V Debs, the Socialist presidential candidate that year, garnered nearly a million votes, about 6 percent of the total. The Socialists remained a major force in American politics until the era of the Red Scare in 1919‑1921, when government repression and factional strife within the party caused its virtual disintegration .31


Packingtown was hardly immune to radical labor politics. As Sinclair’s narrative suggests, politics in the community typically took the form of an ethnic political machine dominated by a ward boss, in Packingtown’s case an organization known as Carey’s Indians. The chronically dismal conditions and periodic crises facing the community, however, created the potential for more radical politics. This happened, in fact, only a few months after Sinclair’s departure, when the immigrant workers of Packingtown elected a Socialist to represent them in the state legislature at Springfield. Within the party itself, unskilled immigrant workers made up an increasingly large proportion of the membership in Chicago and elsewhere in the decade after The Jungle’s publication. In fact, recruits from the various ethnic communities swamped the native‑born Socialists by World War I and provided the bulk of Communist party membership when the majority left wing split from the Socialists in 1919. In that same year the Chicago Federation of Labor launched its own independent party, and Packingtown gave this new movement stronger support than any other neighborhood in the city.32


The fact that neither this political movement nor the interracial and interethnic union movement of 1900‑1904 plays much of a role in The Jungle is not a coincidence. Sinclair’s dedication to socialism made him not only more sympathetic but in many ways more sensitive to the plight of the immigrant worker than most writers of his era. His brilliant descriptions of the conditions faced by such people are more than moving; they are also quite accurate. But, ironically, his personal experience with socialist politics, the inspiration for this novel, also obscured his view of working‑class life. Notwithstanding his consummate skill in capturing so many details of immigrant working‑class life, Sinclair, like many writers of proletarian literature, failed to bridge what historian Daniel Aaron has called the “enormous gap be­tween literate and unliterate America.”33 Sinclair’s prime goal in The Jungle was to depict the disorganization and depravity that capitalism produced in a community of recent immigrants. The only route out of this abyss, from his perspective, was the Socialist party, and the party which he knew and understood and to which he devoted his book and all of his energies was the native‑born, reform‑oriented party through which Jurgis achieves political salvation at the end of the novel.


A whole world of working‑class activity through unions, politics, and, of course, ethnic religious and fraternal organizations remained shadowy to Sinclair. It never became an important part of his novel, but it was very much a part of life in Packingtown. In subsequent years this activity became the basis for some of the most remarkable social movements of the twentieth century. During the depression and war years, the Back of the Yards Council, a powerful community or­ganization that remains a model for neighborhood activists, mobilized Packingtown’s citizens. The packinghouse workers themselves built the United Packinghouse Workers of America, one of the strongest and most progressive industrial unions in American labor history.34


The persistence of such human agency in the face of the severe so­cial, economic, and psychological trauma Sinclair depicts so vividly suggests a different role for the immigrant workers than the one as­cribed to them by the young socialist author. For Packingtown was a slum, but it was not a jungle; its people were poor, but they were not degraded and hopeless cogs in some great machine. Like millions be­fore and after them, they fought for what they felt was theirs and tried to improve the quality of life in their community. They could not wait for the arrival of a millionaire socialist nor pin all of their hopes on the ideas of a young, idealistic writer. They faced their problems on a day‑to‑day basis in the only ways they knew, and in the end they proved what Sinclair must have understood all along at some level‑that the human spirit was alive in the shadow of the slaughter­house, that there was life in “the jungle” after all.




*This is James R. Barrett’s introduction to University of Illinois Press edition of The Jungle, 1988. A careful reading of the notes below will reveal that like Sinclair Barrett too has studied the Chicago packinghouse community and has published several articles and a book on the lives and struggles of workers there.


1. Upton Sinclair, The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair (New York, 1962), 108‑9; Leon Harris, Upton Sinclair, American Rebel (New York, 1975), 70; Christine Scriabine, “Upton Sinclair and the Writing of The Jungle,” Chi­cago History, 10 (Spring 1981), 26‑27; William Bloodworth, Jr., Upton Sin­clair (Boston, 1977), 47; Mary McDowell, “Our Proxies in Industry,” in Mary McDowell and Municipal Housekeeping, ed. Caroline Hill (Chicago, 1937), 58. The first quote is from Ernest Poole’s autobiography, The Bridge, My Own Story (New York, 1940), 95, and the second from Sinclair’s, 109. Biographical information, unless otherwise noted, is drawn from Sinclair’s autobiography or from Harris, Upton Sinclair.


2. Suk Bong Sub, “Literature, Society and Culture: Upton Sinclair and The Jungle” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Iowa, 1985), 27‑28, 86‑87; Scriabine, “the Writing of The Jungle,” 31‑37; Harris, Upton Sinclair, 83‑90; Mark Sullivan, Our Times, the United States, 1900‑1925, vol. 2 (New York, 1927), 474‑75; Judson Grenier, “Muckraking the Muckrakers: Upton Sinclair and His Peers,” in Reform and Reformers in the Progressive Era, ed. David R. Colburn and George E. Pozetta (Westport, Conn., 1983), 71‑92. Literary criticism of The Jungle is voluminous. See, for example, Alfred Kazin, On Native Grounds (New York, 1942); Walter Rideout, The Radical Novel in the United States (Cambridge, Mass., 1956); and on American Naturalism, Maxwell Geismar, Rebels and Ancestors: The American Novel, 1890‑1915 (Boston, 1953); Vernon L. Parrington, The Beginnings of Literary Realism in America, 1860‑1920, vol. 3 of Main Currents in American Thought (New York, 1930); Larzer Ziff, The American 1890s: Life and Times of a Lost Generation (New York, 1966).


3. Finley Peter Dunne, “Mr. Dooley on the Food We Eat,” Collier’s, June 23, 1906, 15‑16, quoted in Harris, Upton Sinclair, 85.


4. Sullivan, Our Times, 2:535‑50; Robert M. Crunden, Ministers of Reform: The Progressives’ Achievment in American Civilization, 1889‑1920 (Urbana, Ill., 1984), 173‑74; Scriabine, “the Writing of The Jungle,” 31‑37; Harris, Upton Sinclair, 83‑90; John Braeman, “The Square Deal in Action: A Case Study in the Growth of the `National Police’ Power,” in Change and Continuity in Twentieth Century America, ed. John Braeman et al. (New York, 1966), 42‑80; James Harvey Young, “The Pig that Fell into the Privy: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and the Meat Inspection Amendments of 1906,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 59 (1985), 467‑80.


5. On the Appeal to Reason and the socialist subculture from which it sprang, see James Green, Grassroots Socialism: Radical Movements in the Southwest, 1895‑1914 (Baton Rouge, 1980), especially 17‑42, 128‑40; Paul Buhle, “Appeal to Reason,” in The Radical Press in America, vol. 1, ed. Joseph Conlin (Westport, Conn., 1974).


6. Sinclair, Autobiography, 126; Scriabine, “the Writing of The Jungle,” 36‑37; Robert B. Downs, “Afterword,” in Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (New York: Signet Edition, 1960), 349. See also Christopher Wilson, “The Making of a Best Seller, 1906,” New York Times Book Review, December 22, 1985, 1, 25, 27.


7. John R. Commons, “Labor Conditions in Slaughtering and Meat Packing,” in Trade Unionism and Labor Problems, ed. John R. Commons (Boston, 1905), 224.


8. For a full analysis of the work process in meat packing, see James R. Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago’s Packinghouse Workers, 1894‑1922 (Urbana, Ill., 1987), 20‑31.


9. Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle, 54‑58.


10. For the data on accidents and illnesses at work, see Mary McDowell Papers, folder 20, Chicago Historical Society; Chicago Tribune, February 23, 1918; Chicago Record Herald, April 7, 1901. See also Floyd Bernard, “A Study of the Industrial Diseases of the Stockyards” (M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1910). It is clear now from the work of Suk Bong Sub that Sinclair actually toned down the sections of the novel dealing with accidents at work (Suh, “Literature, Society and Culture,” 142‑45). One common mistake readers make is to conclude that the problems Sinclair describes are solved, that work in the industry is now relatively safe. It is sad to note that, injuries in meat packing, far from vanishing after The Jungle’s publication, remain an integral part of the work. After investigating safety violations in the industry, a New York Times reporter recently concluded that meat packing “remains today the most hazardous industry in America .... The workers cut themselves . . . [and] each other. They wear out their insides doing repetitive‑motion jobs. They are sliced and crushed by machines that were not even imagined when Sinclair published his book in 1906 . . . . A meatpacking house has always been a grisly place to work. But after years of improvements, life in the packing house has been getting worse again. Several forces have combined to make life tougher for the meatpackers: weaker health and safety regulation, intense competition in the industry, and unions weakened by a fight for survival” (New York Times, June 14, 1987, sec. 3, p. 1).


11. Sinclair, Autobiography, 109‑10; Adolph Smith, “The Stockyards and Packingtown; Insanitary Condition of the World’s Largest Meat Market,” Lancet, January 7, 1905, 49‑52; “The Dark and Insanitary Premises Used for the Slaughtering of Cattle and Hogs‑The Government Inspection,” Lancet, January 14, 1905, 120‑23; “Tuberculosis Among the Stockyard Workers ‑ Sanitation in Packingtown ‑ The Police and the Dumping of Refuse - Vital Statistics,” Lancet, January 21, 1905, 183‑85; “Unhealthful Work in the Stockyards ‑ Shameless Indifference to the Insanitary Condition of the Buildings and the Cattle Pens ‑ Pollution of the Subsoil ‑ the Need for Legislative Interference,” Lancet, January 28, 1905, 258‑60.


12. On health conditions in Packingtown, see Charles J. Bushnell, “Some Social Aspects of the Chicago Stock Yards,” part 1, American Journal of Sociology, 3, no. 3, (1900), map 6, 198; Caroline Hedger, M.D., “The Unhealthfulness of Packingtown,” World’s Work, 12 (May 1906), 7507; idem., “Health‑Summer of 1908,” McDowell Papers, folder 13; Mary McDowell, “Beginnings,” McDowell Papers, folder 3; U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations, Final Report and Testimony (Washington, D.C., 1916), vol. 4, 3468‑69.


13. Scriabine, “the Writing of The Jungle,” 28; Algie Simons, Packingtown (Chicago, 1899); John C. Kennedy et al., Wages and Family Budgets in the Chicago Stock Yards District (Chicago, 1914).


14. City Homes Association, Tenement Conditions in Chicago (Chicago, 1901), 12.


15. “Housing” manuscript report dated 1911, McDowell Papers, folder 14; Edith Abbott and Sophinisba Breckinridge, The Tenements of Chicago, 1908‑1935 (Chicago, 1936), 181, 187; idem., “Housing Conditions in Chicago, III: Back of the Yards,” American Journal of Sociology, 16 (January 1911), 442. The packers’ attorney is quoted in Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1918. For a general discussion of this type of housing and the reform act of 1902, see Thomas Phillpot, The Slum and the Ghetto: Neighborhood Deterioration and Middle Class Reform, Chicago, 1880‑1930 (New York, 1978), chap. 4. Housing conditions remained poor well into the 1920s. See Alice Miller, “Rents and Housing Conditions in the Stock Yards District of Chicago, 1923” (M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1923), 6‑8, 36‑37.


16. See Abraham Blinderman, ed., Critics on Upton Sinclair (Coral Gables, Fla., 1975), 102‑3, 113‑14; Morris Dickstein, Introduction to Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (New York: Bantam Books, 1981), xii‑xiv.


17. On Chicago’s sociologists, see Martin Bulmer, The Chicago School of Sociology: Institutionalization, Diversity and the Rise of Sociological Research (Chicago, 1984), especially 31, 46, 58; Eli Zaretsky, Introduction, in William 1. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, abridged ed. (Urbana, Ill., 1984); Stephen J. Diner, A City and Its Universities: Public Policy in Chicago, 1892‑1919 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980); Robert E. L. Faris, Chicago Sociology, 1920‑1932 (San Francisco, 1967).


18. Ironically, several passages in the novel that did suggest a degree of resourcefulness on the part of the immigrants were cut in the course of revision for publication. See Suh, “Literature, Society and Culture,” 155‑58.


19. This paragraph and several of the following remarks regarding community life are. based on Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle, chap. 3, On the rising level of Eastern European ethnic consciousness, see Victor Greene, For God and Country: The Rise of Polish and Lithuanian Ethnic Consciousness in America, 1860‑1910 (Madison, 1975).


20. Louise Montgomery, The American Girl in the Stock Yards District (Chicago, 1913), 9‑11; Stock Yards Community Clearing House, “1918 Community Study,” McDowell Papers, folder 20; Alice Masaryk, “The Bohemians in Chicago,” Charities, 13 (December 3, 1904), 206‑10; Eugene McCarthy, “The Bohemians in Chicago and Their Benevolent Societies, 1875‑1946” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1950); Edward Kantowicz, “Polish‑Chicago: Survival Through Solidarity,” in The Ethnic Frontier: Essays in the History of Group Survival in Chicago and the Midwest, ed. Peter D’A. Jones and Melvin Holli (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1977), 189‑209; idem., Polish‑American Politics in Chicago, 1888‑1940 (Chicago, 1968), chap. 3 and 4; Greene, For God and Country, 1‑12. See also Dominic A. Pacyga, “Villages of Packinghouses and Steel Mills: The Polish Worker on Chicago’s South Side, 1880‑1921” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, Chicago, 1981), especially chap. 4, and Robert A. Slayton, Back of the Yards: The Making of a Local Democracy (Chicago, 1986), passim, from which the Ostrowski and Alinsky quotes are taken (118).


21. E. C. Moore, “The Social Value of the Saloon,” American Journal of Sociology, 3 (July 1897), 1‑12; Perry Duis, The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston, 1880‑1920 (Urbana, Ill., 1983), 178, 181‑82, 185‑86; Carl Thompson, “Labor in the Packing Industry,” Journal of Political Economy, 15 (February 1906), 107‑8; Abbott and Breckinridge, The Tenements of Chicago, 1908‑1935, 138‑39; John M. Kingsford, “The `Poor Man’s Club’: Social Functions of the Urban Working‑Class Saloon,” in The American Man, eds. Elizabeth and Joseph Pleck (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1980), 261‑67.


22. The quote is from Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America, Official Journal, 5 (November 1904), 11. On the problems and successes of union organizing across racial, ethnic, and gender lines, see Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle, 131‑47. On shop‑floor organization in this era, see James R. Barrett, “Immigrant Workers and Early Mass Production Industry: Work Rationalization and Job Control Conflicts in Chicago’s Packinghouses, 1900‑1904,” in German Workers in Industrial Chicago, 1850‑1910: A Comparative Perspective, ed. Hartmut Keil and John Jentz (DeKalb, Ill., 1983), 104‑24.


23. The quote is contained in “From Lithuania to the Chicago Stockyards‑An Autobiography: Anatanas Kaztauskis,” in Plain Folk: The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans, ed. David M. Katzman and William M. Tuttle (Urbana, Ill., 1982), 112‑14. Antanas Kaztauskis was, in fact, a composite character developed by the journalist Ernest Poole on the basis of interviews and observations he made in the Chicago stockyards during the strike there in the summer of 1904. (See Poole, The Bridge, 94‑95. My thanks to Professor Louise Carroll Wade for drawing this matter to my attention.) Poole’s article was published while Sinclair was researching The Jungle, and it probably helped to shape the character of Jurgis Rudkus.


24. Commons, “Labor Conditions in Slaughtering and Meat Packing,” 243‑45_ On immigrant crowd behavior and the relatively peaceful character of the strike, see Howard B. Myers, “The Policing of Labor Disputes in Chicago: A Case Study” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1929), 540‑47; Sidney Harring, Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities (New Brunswick, N.J., 1983), 121‑27.


25. Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle, 188‑239.


26. The continuity between the nineteenth‑century radical reform tradition and the native‑born base of the Socialist party is brilliantly captured in Nick Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, Citizen and Socialist (Urbana, Ill., 1982). See also James R. Barrett, “American Socialism and Social Biography,” International Labor and Working Class History, 26 (Fall 1984), 75‑82; Green, Grassroots Socialism; Mari Jo Buhle, Women and American Socialism, 1870‑1920 (Urbana, Ill., 1981). On nativism and racism in the movement, see Charles Leinenweber, “The American Socialist Party and `New’ Immigrants,” Science and Society, 32 (Winter 1968), 2‑25; R. Laurence Moore, “Flawed Fraternity‑American Socialist Response to the Negro, 19011912,” The Historian, 32 (November 1969), 1‑18; Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, 225‑27; Barrett, “Socialism and Social Biography,” 76‑77; Philip S. Foner, American Socialism and Black Americans: From the Age of Jackson to World War II (Westport, Conn., 1977), 94‑311; Kate Richards OHare: Selected Writings and Speeches, ed. Philip S. Foner and Sally M. Miller (Baton Rouge, 1982), 6‑7, 44‑49.



27. Quoted in Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, 231. See also Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, fn. 57, 386, and Ralph Chaplin, Wobbly: The Rough and Tumble Story of an American Radical (Chicago, 1948), 84‑85.


28. Harris, Upton Sinclair, 76‑77. For a particularly perceptive critique of the book’s last section on socialism, see Walter B. Rideout, The Radical Novel in the United States, 35‑36. Sinclair recognized the problems with the last several chapters of the book, which he judged “not up to standard” (Sinclair, Autobiography, 87). Teddy Roosevelt was predictably disgusted with the novel’s prescription of socialism as a solution to the problems described (Harris, Upton Sinclair, 87). Judging from their comments in papers and conversations, many of my undergraduate students at the University of Illinois share Roosevelt’s feelings.


29. Sinclair, Autobiography, 101‑4 (quote, 101).


30. Ibid. On Herron, see Crunden, Ministers of Reform, 40‑52, 170.


31. Salvatore, Eugene Debs, 241, 242, 283‑86; Greene, For God and Country; Kantowicz, Polish‑American Politics, 29, 35; James Weinstein, The Decline of Socialism in America, 1912‑1925 (New York, 1967), chap. 4 and passim. Although socialist activity among Lithuanians dates back to at least the 1890s, the Lithuanian Socialist Party of America was not formally established until 1905. The organization was renamed the Lithuanian Socialist Federation in 1907 and was the third largest foreign language federation in the country when it affiliated with the Socialist Party of America in 1916. See Arunas Ahsauskas, “Lithuanians,” Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephen Thernstrom, (Cambridge, Mass., 1980), 671.


32. Chicago Daily News Almanac, 1905 (Chicago, 1906), 345‑53; Barrett, Work and Community in the Jungle, 178‑79, 207.


33. Daniel Aaron, Writers on the Left (New York, 1977), 206.


34. Slayton, Back of the Yards, 189‑223; David Brody, The Butcher Workmen: A Study in Unionization (Cambridge, Mass., 1963), 152‑215.