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A writer who aimed at Americans' hearts, but hit them in the stomach

26 January 2023 15:17 (UTC+04:00)
A writer who aimed at Americans' hearts, but hit them in the stomach

The phrase “'Man shall not live on bread alone!” from the Bible reminds me of two American writers, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Upton Sinclair. For me, they are gods of literature as they through their literary works forced the state to change laws.

The phrase 'man shall not live on bread alone’ opens new horizons before us. Indeed, not just the stomach, but also dignity keeps humans alive. Unfortunately, in order to live, one takes the freedom of others and exploits them. Of course, not everybody agrees with this approach and these people arms only with literature.

About 150 years ago, America was divided into two parts. Southerners considered themselves superior to blacks, seeing them as a creature between animals and human beings. Northerners were against it, but they did not do any organized action against slavery.

However, H. B. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" touched the hearts of northerners and forced them to act. Many people associate the start of the Civil War, which ended slavery in the USA, with this woman's name. Even Abraham Lincoln greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe with these words: "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war."

It was actually a very great act because northern soldiers died not to fight for their own freedom, but for the freedom of the black brought from Africa. In short, after Stowe's book, Americans preserved the dignity of the United States. Therefore, we can recognize Harriet Beecher Stowe as a writer who played an important role in changing history with her book.

With the help of Stowe's book, slavery was officially abolished, but slavery in the United States was not limited to the southern states. In the north, there was another type of slavery; it was called wage slavery. It is true that "wage slaves" were considered full citizens according to the law, but they were exploited as well. The difference was that blacks were forced to work at gunpoint, while "wage slaves" were forced to work with wages.

The US received migrants from all over the world who didn't need them. As a result, a large number of unemployed people appeared in the country. Millions of people stood at company gates begging for work, and this policy gave capitalists the opportunity to treat workers as they pleased. Not only employees who disobeyed bosses, but also injured ones were fired immediately. After all, there were millions of people waiting at the door, hoping someone would be fired and he/she would be hired in lieu.

Knowing all this, Upton Sinclair came to Chicago and stated.

" And I’ve come here to write the `Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of the Labor Movement!" Disgusted as a migrant worker, who hunted for a job and worked in a meat packing plant, he began to write a book called `Jungle'. Later, Jack London called this book "The Uncle Tom's Cabin of wage slavery".

In his book, Sinclair described the miserable life of the poor working class very well. The work describes not only poverty but also unsanitary workplaces, selling sick animals to people, the bias of the judicial system in the USA, and fraud in elections. Sinclair was sure to repeat the success of H. B. Stowe.

He sent his book to six publishers, but all of them refused to publish it. In the end, he published the book at his own expense on February 28, 1906, in the "Doubleday Page & Company" publishing house. The book became a best-seller the week it went on sale. People who read the book were outraged. Among readers was President Theodore Roosevelt. Later, the president sent a commission to Chicago to conduct research on meat packing plants. The commission confirmed what Sinclair had written in his book.

Roosevelt sent the results of the commission to the Senate on June 4, 1906. With popular pressure, the Meat Industry Act of 1906, and the Pure Food and Drug Act were passed by the Senate, and the Bureau of Chemistry was created (renamed the Food and Drug Administration in 1930).

Sinclair followed B. Stowe's footsteps, and his efforts changed the law in American history. But this change disappointed Sinclair. He wanted to draw the attention of the American people to the workers' miserable lives, but the American people did not care about human dignity as before. They stopped the sale of unsanitary products in the book and they demanded control mechanisms from the government. Unsanitary production literary overshadowed workers' miserable lives. Sinclair, helpless in front of this scene, says ironically in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine: “I aimed at the public heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach.”

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