My Archival Wanderings: Upton Sinclair

Hi Writers,
It would be an understatement to say that I learn something new every day that I comb through the WD archives, and today was no exception.

Today’s exhibit: an excerpt from a 1938 essay by Upton Sinclair. A prolific nonfiction author of his day, and—to go along with our running theme for the past few posts—a social crusader.

Did you know Upton Sinclair self-published nearly all of his work? Apparently he had to because of the confrontational subject matter of his writings—exposing injustices and other inhumane activity.

Anyway, here is an inspiring excerpt from his essay entitled: “Changes I have Seen,” which expounds on Sinclair’s writer as social crusader belief.

Now, again, America is taking heart, and dreaming of some kind of society in which there can be security and freedom for all the people—something which not even the rich can enjoy today. There are millions now who do not believe in money-accumulation as the end and goal of human life. Good reason, you say, because they have no chance to succeed at it. But bitterness about one’s personal fate is the first step to thinking and trying to understand a world in which one-third of the population is condemned to misery, no matter how hard they work and scheme and struggle.

In short people are reading and thinking and talking about economics today. New writers are appearing, and fighting for the right of independence, and to say what they think about the system of exploitation, which has thrown some ten to twelve millions permanently out of work, and is making it necessary for us to heap up a deficit of four billions of dollars a year to keep the ratio of unemployment from doubling itself. Thoughtful books and honest books, fighting books for the cause of social justice are pouring from the presses, both here and in England, and in all the countries where freedom to think and to speak survives. I believe that America and the other democratic lands are soon to see a new birth of freedom, and I believe that the literary critics of that happier time will look back upon this age and call it the time of golden opportunity in the history of literature.
Among those who read these words are young writers who will thrill to the idea that their books may be read and their names be listed in that roll of honor. Get something vital to say, and learn to say it with power and appeal. You may help to make the future of humanity happy and noble.

How’s that for inspiration…
Keep Writing,

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4 thoughts on “My Archival Wanderings: Upton Sinclair

  1. Kurt L. Hanson

    I am not in a flock, one of the herd. Or included in any "… ten or twelve millions." Someone else may think and believe so. I’ll refuse.

    And then glossing through to the final sentence …, yes, that’s me.

  2. Cheryl Barker

    After reading Sinclair’s first sentence, I had to do a double-take on the date of this piece. So back in 1938, America was dreaming of a society with security and freedom for all people. We’ve made some strides where freedom is concerned, but we’re still dreaming of a more secure society — guess it’s just a different kind of security we’re longing for now…


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