Meat Packing Industry Progressive Movement Essay

Rights and responsibilities in the meatpacking industry

In the early twentieth century, at the height of the progressive movement, "Muckrakers" had uncovered many scandals and wrong doings in America, but none as big the scandals of Americas meatpacking industry. Rights and responsibilities were blatantly ignored by the industry in an attempt to turn out as much profit as possible. The meat packers did not care if poor working conditions led to sickness and death. They also did not care if the spoiled meat they sold was killing people. The following paper will discuss the many ways that rights and responsibilities were not being fulfilled by the meat packing industry.

At the turn of the twentieth century "Muckraking" had become a very popular practice. This was where "muckrakers" would bring major problems to the publics attention. One of the most powerful pieces done by a muckraker was the book "The Jungle", by Upton Sinclair. The book was written to show the horrible working and living conditions in the packing towns of Chicago, but what caused a major controversy was the filth that was going into Americas meat. As Sinclair later said in an interview about the book "I aimed at the publics heart and by accident hit them in the stomach."# The meat packing industry took no responsibility for producing safe and sanitary meat.

One reason for this problem was that there was no real inspection of the meat. A quote from "The Jungle" tells of a government inspector checking the hogs for Tuberculosis, "This government inspector did not have a manner of a man who was worked to death; he was apparently not haunted by a fear that the hog might get by before he had finished his testing. If you were a sociable person, he was quite willing to enter into conversation with you and to explain the deadly nature of the ptomaines which are found in tubercular pork; and while he was talking with you you could hardly be so ungrateful to notice that a dozen carcasses were passing him untouched."# This obviously led to tubercular meat being processed in the packing house. Another problem was the incredible lack of sanitation and the use of spoiled meat, another quote from "The Jungle" tells of how dirty it was in these plants "There would be meat stored in great piles in rooms; and water from leaky roofs would drip over it, and thousands of rats would race about on it. It was too dark in these storage places to see well, but a man could run his hand over these piles of mean and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats. These rats were nuisances, and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them; they would die, and then rats, bread, and meat would go in the hoppers together."# There was nothing the packers would not do to make a profit, if meat went bad they would pickle it or make sausage out of it, "there was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage; there would come all the way back from Europe old sausage that had been rejected, and that was moldy and white-it would be dosed with borax and glycerin, and dumped into the hoppers, and made over again for home consumption."# The Packers took no responsibilities for the sickness that these meats caused. It was not uncommon for people to die from sickness they had gotten from eating bad meat, this is also an issue in "The Jungle" when a young family member suddenly dies one morning, "it was the smoked sausage he had eaten that morning-which may have been made out of some of the tubercular pork that was condemned unfit for export."# Disease was also a factor for the workers,


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Cities grew in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As specialized industries like steel and meat packing improved, jobs also increased in the cities. These factories work lured former farmers, immigrants, and American workers moved into the cities. These people lived in tenements and ghettos and were unable to earn an authentic living due to unreasonable wage cut. Progressivism is an umbrella label for a wide range of economic, political, social, and moral reforms. The early twentieth century acted as the Progressive Era, when Americans find solutions to resolve problems that were engendered by industrialization. Predicated on the documents, Progressive Era were effective because of child labor, working conditions, and women's suffrage.…show more content…

This law placed a ten percent tax on net profits of businesses that employed children under age fourteen or made them work more than eight hours a day. Even though this law was declared unconstitutional later, number of working children between ages ten and fifteen declined by almost fifty percent. On the other hand, there was still some opposition against child labor. As it stated in Document G, a father brought a suit to “enjoin the enforcement of the act of Congress intended to prevent interstate commerce in the products of child labor.” He wanted his sons (one under age of fourteen and the other at the age of fifteen) to continue working in a cotton mill at Charlotte to fortify the family. Nevertheless, Children’s Bureau and National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) worked to end child labor. During the Progressive Era, large business owners demanded long hours for very little pay. These workers typically worked seven days a week, twelve hours each day, some enduring 24 straight hours of intense labor. After looking closely at Document B, Neill-Reynolds, a muckraker who investigated and gave nationwide publicity to accidents and unsafe conditions. The report was basically about poor conditions in the meat packing industry and violation of international agreements promising a safe workplace. The factory conditions were poor: light source was natural light, few windows, dangerous machines, few break times

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