Jacob Riis & Upton Sinclar

Topics: Upton Sinclair, How the Other Half Lives, Pure Food and Drug Act Pages: 2 (498 words) Published: June 13, 2011
Throughout the 20th century, individuals attempted to address problems within American society. Their efforts have had a significant impact on American life. Two individuals that attempted to address problems within American society were Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis. These two muckrakers revealed the horrible working and living conditions of the lower class. In Upton Sinclair’s In The Jungle (1906), Sinclair showed how unregulated capitalism was in the meatpacking industry. His described the unsanitary conditions and the inhumane conditions experienced by the workers and shocked readers. Sinclair had intended it as an attack upon capitalist enterprise, but readers reacted viscerally. The novel was so influential that it spurred government regulation of the industry, as well as the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. In Jacob Riis’s How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York(1890), Riis showed through photo journalism how people in lower class communities lived. In How the Other Half Lives he describes the system of tenement housing that had failed, as he claims, due to greed and neglect from wealthier people. He claims a correlation between the high crime rate, drunkenness and reckless behavior of the poor and their lack of a proper home. He explained not only the living conditions in New York slums, but also the sweatshops in some tenements which paid workers only a few cents a day. The book explains the plight of working children working in factories and at other jobs. Riis blamed the upper and middle class for the conditions of these slums. Assuming that if people were made more aware of these conditions, they would help and be more apt to eradicate them. Both of these two journalists helped American life through the exposure of what they’ve seen and what they have felt. Both men have expressed that the government is being unfair. Upton expressed that the people working in the factories have had a...
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