Upton Sinclair was a prolific and popular novelist of the early 20th century. Among his memorable novels were Oil, a harrowing tale of the rape of L.A. by oilmen such as Edward Doheny, and The Jungle, which follows the fortunes of an immigrant who finds in the stockyards of Chicago a ruthless industry that degrades it’s workers and whose filthy practices contaminate the meat it processes. Because of the public response, the U.S. Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, and conditions in American slaughterhouses improved.
Along came the great depression and a multitude of impoverished Californians and dust bowl refugees. Sinclair and colleagues devised a plan they called EPIC, for End Poverty in California. A fine, logical plan it was, based upon resurrecting farms and factories closed for the lack of consumers able to buy their products.
Using EPIC as his platform, Sinclair’s campaign for governor appeared destined to win big. But the tycoons got worried and began preaching the horrors of Socialism in every media outlet, even those that had all along backed Sinclair, but who now capitulated in favor of advertisers.
Here’s the whole story in retrospect: I Candidate for Governor and How I Got Licked by Upton Sinclair.