Authors: Upton Sinclair
|1874||The formation of the Workingmen’s Party by a group of so cialists marks the dawn of labor reform activism and the strengthening of unions in the United States.|
|1877||The Workingmen’s Party changes its name to the Socialist Labor Party.|
|1878||n September 20 Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr., is born in Balti more, Maryland, to Upton Beall Sinclair, a salesman who comes from a distinguished Southern family, and Priscilla Harden Sinclair.|
|1883||Five-year-old Upton teaches himself to read.|
|1886||In Chicago the Haymarket Square labor riot is started by workers demonstrating in support of an eight-hour workday; the riot spreads consciousness of labor issues across the coun try.|
|1888||The Sinclair family moves to New York City. Up to this time, Upton has been home-schooled by his mother; he enters grammar school and completes eight grade levels in less than two years.|
|1892||Ellis Island opens on February 14 and New York City be comes an immigration mecca. Thirteen-year-old Upton passes the entrance exam for the College of the City of New York (then more or less a high school) and begins his studies in the fall. While at City College he starts his career as a professional writer, composing and selling pulp fiction.|
|1893||The New York Stock market crashes, leading to bank foreclo sures and a national economic depression that lasts four years. llinois Governor John Altgeld pardons three imprisoned Hay market demonstrators.|
|1894||Railway Union workers strike across the nation when the Pull man Palace Car Company reduces the wages of its workers without arbitration. The case goes to the Supreme Court.|
|1895||The Supreme Court’s decision against the Railway Union workers is a major setback for the trade union movement. As his father descends into alcoholism, Sinclair takes a job as a hotel clerk to support his mother.|
|1897||Sinclair enrolls in a graduate program at Columbia University to study literature and philosophy. He is a voracious reader—for example, reading all of Shakespeare and all the poetry of John Milton in two weeks—and a quick learner. He continues to support himself and his mother by writing for|
Army and Navy Weekly
at the rate of $40 per story.
|1901||President William McKinley is assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, and Theodore Roosevelt fills the vacancy. Sin clair publishes his first novel,|
Springtime and Harvest,
about penniless lovers.
The History of the Standard Oil Company,
Ida Tarbell’s expose of the illicit means John D. Rockefeller sed to monopolize the early oil industry, is serialized in
Mc Clure’s Magazine.
|1902||Sinclair meets socialist Leonard D. Abbott, who gives him a number of books and pamphlets and introduces him to John Spargo, editor of a socialist monthly.|
|1904||Sinclair’s next novel,|
about the Civil War, catches the eye of Fred Warren, editor of the socialist weekly
Appeal to Reason.
Warren buys from Sinclair the serial rights for a novel about immigrant workers in the Chicago meatpacking district, and in October Sinclair heads to Chicago to live among meatpacking workers for seven weeks. While in Chi cago compiling data for what will become
Sinclair is invited to dinner at Jane Addams’s Hull House, one of the first American settlement houses, welfare institutions estab lished in poor neighborhoods to improve social conditions. At ull House, he meets Adolphe Smith, a founder of the Social Democratic Federation in England. Smith’s socialist criticism of the meatpacking industry significantly influences Sinclair’s political convictions and the final version of
|1905||Sinclair helps found the Intercollegiate Socialist Society in New York City. At the first official meeting, on September 12, writer Jack London is elected president. The Jungle is published in installments in|
Appeal to Reason,
helping to increase the magazine’s circulation to 175,000. However, the novel is rejected by five book publishers. With the backing of Jack London and others in the socialist move ment, Sinclair decides to publish the book himself and takes in $4,000 in advance sales, money he will use to fund a “home colony,” a socialist community.
|1906||Impressed by Sinclair’s advance sales, Doubleday agrees to publish|
The two editions appear simultaneously in February, and
is an immediate success. Inspired by the novel, President Theodore Roosevelt orders the De partment of Agriculture to investigate conditions in the stock yards; that investigation yields support for passage of two pieces of federal legislation: the Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. Sinclair publishes his plan for a “home colony” in the June issue of
The Helicon Home Colony opens in Englewood, New Jersey, on Novem ber 1; it is destroyed by fire four months later.
The Industrial Republic,
a “prophecy of socialism in America,” in which he predicts that publishing giant William Randolph Hearst will be a future U.S. president.
|1914||Sinclair joins a community of radicals, including investigative journalist and socialist Max Eastman and others, at Croton on-Hudson, a small town north of New York City.|
|1915||Sinclair publishes The Cry for|
justice: An Anthology of the Great Social Protest Literature of All Time.
|1917||On April 2 the United States declares war on Germany. The “Red Scare” motivates Congress to pass the Espionage Act, followed by the Sedition Act in 1918, and a nationwide cam paign against left-wing groups and radicals is launched. An argument between Sinclair and Max Eastman over the cause of World War I is printed in the left-wing journal|
Sinclair resigns from the Socialist Party. Sinclair publishes
a story about a miner’s strike in Colorado.
The Profits of Religion
criticizes clergymen more concerned with money than spirituality.
|1920||On September 16 a bomb on Wall Street kills 30 and injures 300. “Reds” and anarchists are suspected.|
|1926||Sinclair rejoins the Socialist Party and is nominated as their candidate for governor of California.|
|1927||On August 22 Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrants who were widely considered to have been denied a fair trial, are executed for murder. Sinclair’s novel Oil! ex poses exploitation in the California oil fields.|
|1928||Sinclair chronicles the Sacco-Vanzetti case in his novel|
Soon after its publication,
is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize but is passed over because of its “socialistic tendencies.”
|1930||With the beginning of the Great Depression, 12 million Americans become unemployed. During the summer and fall, Sinclair is again the Socialist Party’s candidate for governor of California. Sinclair publishes|
The Wet Parade,
which advo cates the prohibition of alcohol.
|1932||MGM premieres the film adaptation of|
The Wet Parade.
I, Governor of California—andHow I Ended Pov erty
is published. On September 1 Sinclair changes his reg istration from Socialist to Democrat. In October he is invited to the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt.
|1934||Again running for governor of California, Sinclair submits his End Poverty in California (EPIC) program to the White House, hoping for an endorsement. He loses the gubernato rial race, but less than a year after the election, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sends Congress a tax resolution that has many similarities to Sinclair’s EPIC plan.|
I, Candidate for Governor—andHow I Got Licked.
the first in a series of eleven novels featuring the journalist Lanny Budd, illegitimate son of a mu nitions tycoon; the series will retell world history, with a focus on the United States, from 1913 to 1949.
|1941||Between Two Worlds and Peace or War in America|
are pub lished. On December 7 Japanese warplanes attack Pearl Harbor. FDR declares war against Japan the following day.
a novel about the rise of Nazism, is published.
|1943||Sinclair wins the Pulitzer Prize for|
My Lifetime in Letters,
|1967||On December 15 Sinclair joins President Lyndon Johnson for the signing of the Wholesome Meat Act, a revision of the 1906 legislation.|
|1968||On November 25 Upton Sinclair dies in a nursing home in Bound Brook, New Jersey.|