Upton Sinclair

A picture of the author Upton Sinclair

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. (1878 - 1968) was an American author who wrote close to 100 novels in a variety of genres, including muckraking works, most notably The Jungle (1906) which exposed grave labor and sanitary violations in Chicago's meat packing industry. A few months after it was published, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act.

Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check, 1919In 1919, he published The Brass Check, an expose of American journalism, a critique of William Randolph Hearst's practices, and the limitations of the "free press." Four years after Sinclair's book was published, the first code of ethics for journalists was created. In his novel, The Moneychangers (1908), Sinclair tackled the Wall Street financial disaster of 1907, in which his character clearly based on J.P. Morgan, is responsible for the insider trading corruption that brought down the U.S. Stock Market. The novel may have helped accelerate passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Sinclair won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1943.

As an outspoken socialist, Sinclair attempted unsuccessfully to bridge his literary success into the political arena. He lost a Congressional election as the Socialist Party candidate, and also his bid as the Democratic Party candidate for Governor of California during the Great Depression, during which he promoted the "End Poverty in California" campaign. Sinclair's legacy is promoting social justice and public policy changes as a direct result of his published works.

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