At the turn of the twentieth century, America found itself at a crossroads. Presented with growing opportunity, but also thwarted by significant internal and external problems, the country needed leaders who could provide a new and different direction. Ready for reform, the stage was set for the era of the Progressive Presidents, starting with Republican Theodore Roosevelt.
Elected in 1901, Roosevelt had the power to do something about the horrors described in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. He appointed a special committee to investigate food handling practices in Chicago. Their report confirmed much of what Sinclair had written. Roosevelt was shocked by the report and insisted that Congress take action to address the issues.
After continued pressure from Roosevelt, Congress finally passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Many members of Congress were reluctant to pass these laws, as the meat industry was a powerful lobbying force. However, the passage of this legislation helped prevent the adulteration and mislabeling of food, alcohol, and drugs. It was an important first step toward ensuring that Americans were buying safe and healthy products. Eventually, the meatpacking industry welcomed these reforms, as they found that a government seal of approval would help increase their export revenues.
Sinclair’s additional messages of the inhumane slaughter of the animals and the treatment of immigrant workers, however, remain societal ills that we continue to grapple with in 2018.
Here, we created mazes to show just how difficult it was to “get ahead” in The Jungle . . .
Our chapter-by-chapter analysis continues . . .
“And, for this, at the end of the week, he will carry home three dollars to his family, being his pay at the rate of five cents per hour-just about his proper share of the million and three quarters of children who are now engaged in earning their livings in the United States.” — from The Jungle